Better World Club

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Keep the Supreme Court Out of Politics!

I think that was supposed to be, ''Keep Business Out of Politics!''

Same Difference...

In last year's State of the Union, President Barack Obama foresaw the danger of the Supreme Court's Citizen's United case, which opened the floodgates of corporate political spending. When Justice Samuel Alito mouthed that the President didn't know what he was talking about, it caused quite a stir.

Well...this fall's Congressional campaign won't do much to burnish the Court's image as a body of intellectuals. Spending is out of control -- and voters can't even get any information as to who's behind it.

Of course, this Supreme Court decision is just going to make it harder for America to get what it needs from responsible businesses.

That's because the money flooding the political system does not represent the views of companies in New Voice of Business or the American Sustainable Business Council, two business groups for which Better World Club President Mitch Rofsky sits on the board of directors. Instead, the money that floods the system will come from organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which alone will spend more than $200M this year. This group and other organizations like it represent companies that don't value what we value.

- They are more likely to defend the industries of the past than the industries that are inventing the future.
- They are committed to environmentally disastrous old energy sources rather than making America a leader in clean, renewable energy.
- They are intent on exhausting natural resources in search of the lowest cost, rather than operating sustainably.
- They are multinational giants rather than Main Street businesses that respond to local communities.
- They operate as if investors are the only stakeholders that matter, rather than acknowledge the diverse stakeholders that matter in our modern and interconnected economy.

Is that the kind of business thinking that we want to dominate our political discourse?

Ask yourself: Which type of business represents the future? Which type of business should speak most loudly in the political debate: extractive businesses or sustainable businesses? "Too Big to Fail" businesses or businesses of a more reasonable scale? Businesses that are defending a position of market dominance built generations ago or businesses that are innovating and disrupting the legacy industries of the past? We cannot build an economy of the future based on outmoded ideas and values.

A Solution

Sponsored in the Senate by Dick Durbin (D-IL) and in the House by John Larson (D-CT) and Walter Jones (R-NC), the Fair Elections Now Act would neutralize the corrupting influence of special interest donations and make it possible for legislators to focus on the people's business rather than on fundraising.

The bill has been carefully crafted to survive constitutional challenge by the Supreme Court. It does not bar private funding of campaigns, but it provides the option for candidates to run for Congress on a blend of small private donations and limited public funds, including a four-to-one federal match on donations of $100 or less. With theFair Elections Now Act, candidates could finance a viable campaign based solely on contributions from their local grassroots base of supporters. Candidates would not need to depend on special interests who expect to obtain influence in exchange for cash.

We will be asking for your support in the next edition of Driving Change.

For more on campaign finance, see BWC President Mitch Rofsky's "Quid Pro What? The Supreme Court Has to Recognize Bribery Before It Can Stop It."

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