From Congressman Jim Himes:
Today, we celebrate Independence Day. On July 4, 1776, fifty-six delegates from the thirteen colonies stood against a tyrannical British king and for the proposition that Americans would govern themselves through a democratic process of voting.
First, let me say Happy Independence Day.
Second, in the spirit of forming a more perfect union, it is now time for another Declaration of Independence. It is time to reassert the essential principle that all people have equal demands and access to their government, which is accountable solely to them.
These last four years in which I have served in the U.S. Congress have been volatile and partisan. All too often emotion has replaced deliberation, and recrimination has supplanted compromise. But generally, our system works.
Except for one thing: money. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision is as serious a threat to the underpinnings of our 240-year-old democracy as anything I have seen.
In its aftermath, select campaign donors (or a handful of power brokers) can ensure that candidates are indebted to them–and them alone. By rejecting reasonable transparency requirements for those who want to influence elections, we put the electoral process up for silent auction. It’s shameful. Democracy should never be for sale.
Democracy works when every voice is heard. If people start believing that some are more equal than others, we put the very foundation of American democracy at risk.
It’s time to declare our independence from the permeation of anonymous money that threatens to undermine the fairness of our elections. It’s time to declare that our political system does not bear a price tag.
I will co-sponsor a Constitutional Amendment to reverse the effects of the Citizens United decision. I revere the principle espoused in the Declaration of Independence that just powers are derived from the consent of the governed. When the power to influence elections is concentrated in the hands of the few, we no longer know that all voices are being heard, and we no longer know that the true will of the people is being done.
Today, we all celebrate the founding of our great nation. When the signers of the Declaration of Independence pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to a set of self-evident truths, they challenged future generations to remain vigilant and resist those who those who would try to concentrate power in the hands of the few. They warned us of such “abuses and usurpations” that imperil our liberty.
On this Independence Day, I want you to know that I will take the counsel and wisdom of the Second Continental Congress of 1776 into the Congress of the United States and proudly endorse a Constitutional Amendment to reverse the corrosive effects of the Citizens United decision.
In honor of Independence Day a special commentary by OIB reader Ron Mackey:
As America celebrates another 4th of July I would like to leave a little history. The Declaration justified the independence of the United States by listing colonial grievances against King George III, and by asserting certain natural rights, including a right of revolution. But what about the slaves? Here is what Frederick Douglass had to say on July 4, 1852.
Frederick Douglass–July 4, 1852
What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy–a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.
Go search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.