I have quite a few friends on both sides of the political aisle, and what I tend to hear from both sides is that all politicians are equally corrupt and that both parties are equally sold out to big money in politics.
What I’m going to do here is demonstrate that this opinion is not true, that the Republican Party is far more deeply compromised by its alliance to big money, and that the Democratic Party is still capable of operating on principle and still able to work for campaign finance reforms that would reduce the influence of big money on politics.
On September 11th, 2014 the Senate voted on S.J. Res 19. This resolution would move forward with a Constitutional Amendment for campaign finance reform. The specific language of this resolution is intended to counteract the effects of the United States Supreme Court (USSC) 2010 decision Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, which “held that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment.”
The four “liberal” members of the USSC ruled against overturning then-current laws and previous court decisions while the Republican appointees ruled in favor of doing so. Justices Kennedy and Scalia were appointed by President Reagan, while justices Roberts, Alito, and Thomas were appointed by G.W. Bush. All of these GOP appointees voted to overturn campaign finance regulations already in place.
Because the USSC overturned previous campaign finance legislation, a Constitutional amendment — which is what campaign finance reform now needs given the Supreme Court decision — was presented to Congress. Campaign finance reform was put to a vote on September 11, 2014 and lost with 54 Y votes, six short of the 60 required for the passage of a Constitutional amendment through the Senate.
Senate Republicans shot that proposed amendment down.
Every single Republican Senator voted against the amendment for campaign finance reform — all of them who voted — and not a single Democratic senator voted against it.
You can see the roll call of votes on the US Senate website for yourself. You don’t have to take anyone’s word for it. Every single Republican Senator voted “Nay” on campaign finance reform with the exception of three who did not vote at all. So here’s the vote total:
54 voted in support of campaign finance reform: 52 Democratic senators and two independents.
42 voted against campaign finance reform: All 42 of them were Republicans.
4 abstained from the vote: 3 Republicans and 1 Demoocrat.
It’s just not true that both parties are equally corrupted by money in politics. It’s probably true that corruption is generally rampant, but we have 54 members in the current Congress who have proven their willingness to vote for campaign finance reform. That number is going to go down when the new Congress is put in place on January 3rd, but there will still be a large number of Congresspersons willing to work for campaign finance reform in office. Not much will change for the next two years. But that doesn’t mean nothing will ever change.