blog: Don’t let politicians silence you; vote your opinion
The First Amendment has been a hot topic lately.
Whether it is Republicans and Democrats arguing over whether a healthcare bill mandating coverage of birth control is a violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of religion, or politicians and citizens debating the public good or evil of giving corporations free speech, the debate is on.
Who deserves freedom?
Is one person’s (or a corporation’s) freedom more important than another?
Should citizens have more say than corporations?
Should religious institutions have more say than women?
My answer to all of these is simple: America was founded on individualism and freedom. To take that away and force people to conform to another’s belief goes against everything we stand for.
I shouldn’t have to be a millionaire to have a say in the presidential race. I shouldn’t have to fight for the right to have safe and protected sex if I want to. Politicians and corporations rely on us not getting involved and not getting information, so that they can run the country in a way that suits their needs.
That needs to change!
A good place to start would be Political Action Committees. PACs are organizations that lobby for or against political candidates and/or legislation. SuperPACs – the latest evolution of political fundraising, thanks to Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision – have the ability to raise unlimited funds from any source for candidates as long as the candidate in no way coordinates with the SuperPAC on how to spend the money.
If this sounds confusing to you, you are not alone! Why wouldn’t a politician coordinate with his or her biggest donor? In fact, ABC News reported that throughout the Republican race so far, GOP candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have all been in contact with their SuperPACs. Santorum was traveling with his biggest supporter but told ABC, “they are just friends.”
That’s probably what Brad Pitt told Jennifer Aniston too.
It also seems impossible to believe that once elected, politicians wouldn’t give some kickback to the corporation or individual donating millions to their campaigns.
Television star Stephen Colbert has probably made the biggest statement against this absurdity. As the host of “The Colbert Report,” Comedy Central’s satirical take on political talk shows, Colbert started a SuperPAC – Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow – which raised $1 million. Colbert even spent some of that money on attack ads, prompting the New York Times to call the SuperPAC legit. And just to really highlight the loopholes in the Citizen’s United case, Colbert gave his SuperPAC to pal and fellow TV star Jon Stewart, temporarily calling the fundraising magnet “Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert SuperPAC.”
Colbert made his point loud and clear – there is no separation between candidates and the SuperPACs that support them.
The best way for any of us to fight against such ludicrous campaign finance laws or unfair laws prohibiting mandatory health insurance coverage of birth control is by voting and getting our opinions heard.
Although voting is not the only form of participation, it is a good start to being involved in politics. Sending emails, protesting, and putting in phone calls to politicians are also excellent ways to make it known what our opinions are. Many Americans have forgotten that the way to get our voice heard is by putting our opinions out there in whatever form works best for us!
Politicians bank on all of us feeling like our votes won’t make a difference, that we are too busy, and that politicians wouldn’t listen anyway. It doesn’t have to be like that. If enough of us show up, they have to listen. If students really unified together we would be a force to be reckoned with. So, basically, my message is to vote! Vote for whomever. Right, Left or even Colbert but please, just vote.
Communication & Media Studies