The False and Contradictory Claims of Proposition 32
by Richard T. Kamei
1st Vice President
This coming November, voters will be asked to vote on Proposition 32, which is titled “Stop Special Interest Money Now.” The title of this proposition and what it claims to stand for is Orwellian in the truest sense of the word.
The authors of the proposition claim that it would protect the public’s interests by limiting the influence of special interest groups on the state government. However, there are several problems with this claim. For starters, if the genuine goal of Proposition 32 was to take special interest money out of politics, why is the principal supporter of the proposition Lincoln Club of Orange County? In an article titled “California’s Prop 32 on Political Funding is a Bill of Rights for Billionaire’s,” published in the Guardian on July 30, 2012, John Logan states:
To appreciate just how misleading this measure is, one has to understand who supports and opposes it, and
why. Prop 32’s principal backer, the Lincoln Club of Orange County, co-produced Hillary: The Movie, which
was at the heart of the 2012 landmark supreme court decision Citizens United and which led to a flood of special
interest spending. The Lincoln Club boasted it was “instrumental” in pushing Citizens United, and celebrated
the decision as a victory for political free speech. Since its founding in 1962, the Lincoln Club has consistently
sought to weaken rules that stop big money from dominating elections, and Prop 32 would go a long way to
achieving that goal.
Logan goes on to state in his article, “Other backers of Prop 32 include Orange County anti-union activists and rightwing billionaires…”
Since Lincoln Club was in support of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision (which prevents the government from banning corporations from unlimited spending on elections), their intention must not be simply preventing special interests from political spending on elections. In fact, Proposition 32 does very little to limit the political spending by corporations and the wealthy because they, unlike unions, do not depend on voluntary payroll deductions for political purposes.
Another example of this inconsistency can be found in the $4 million that the political action committee American Future Fund provided to a newly formed Yes on Proposition 32 committee called the California Future Fund for Free Markets. Needless to say, it is disingenuous for this group, which is tied to the multi-billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch (who are well known for using their vast wealth to impact political decisions in their favor), to purport that they are championing the cause of putting an end to the influence of special interests. These examples clearly illustrate the true intention of Proposition 32, which is to undermine the voice and power of the workers.
This brings us to another problem with the claim that the proposition would protect the public’s interests by limiting political spending by special interests. There will be little change for the corporations and the wealthy who can continue to write checks, as they currently do, to further their interests. In fact, due to the Citizens United decision of 2010 and the creation of the Super PACs, our nation has become even more of a plutocracy. On March 26, 2012, Charles Riley reported in CNN Money that “The top 100 individual super PAC donors make up just 3.7% of those who have contributed to the new money vehicles, but account for more than 80% of the total money raised, according to data from the Center from Responsive Politics.” In addition to Super PACs being exempt from the rules, sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, and real estate trusts are also exempt.
We cannot ignore the blatant fact that we live in a severely unequal society with wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. In the wise words of our former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, “We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few or we can have a democracy. But we cannot have both.” Until the day comes when we have a more democratic society through less concentration of wealth, the unions are one of the few institutions that serve as opposition to the dominance of the corporate and financial elite. The undermining of union power is the true purpose of Proposition 32. Proposition 32 is the fourth attempt in California since 1998 to undermine the voice of the workers. The California voters have clearly spoken by defeating each past attempt. Similar attacks have also occurred in other states such as Wisconsin and Ohio.
Now, more than ever, we who are concerned about the well-being of working class and middle class families must unite and show our strength by voting down this misleading and unfair measure that attempts to silence the voice of everyday workers who are the foundation of our society. We must not let the special interest groups represented by the corporations and the wealthy elite fool us into passing a measure that will restrict the voice of the worker while doing nothing to prevent those with the financial means to continue making massive political contributions through vehicles such as Super PACs.
After Proposition 32 is defeated, Americans need to focus on repealing the Citizens United decision, which opened up the floodgates for spending on political advertisements. In fact, an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken shortly after the 2010 Citizens United decision found that 80% of Americans opposed the ruling, which included 65% who “strongly” opposed the decision. Repealing the Citizens United decision would be a real step towards addressing special interest money in politics.
For more information on Proposition 32, visit the CFT website by clicking the link below:
For information on amending the Citizens United decision and signing an online petition, please click on the links below:
Move to Amend:
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