Reducing the Power of Wealthy Donors
Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling allowed unlimited independent expenditures in political campaigns, ultra-wealthy individuals, special interest groups, and corporations have released an unprecedented wave of political spending in our elections.
The result? Lawmakers backed by the ultra-rich, corporations, and special interests—like the oil industry and the NRA—too often dominate the halls of Congress and our state capitols.
Ultimately, the agenda of wealthy donors is prioritized over the concerns and wellbeing of everyday voters. Our lawmakers’ focus becomes big-ticket fundraising events and dialing for dollars, not passing policies with overwhelming public support, like increasing gun safety, raising the minimum wage, and protecting our planet.
Our broken campaign finance system impacts who is able to successfully run for office and who elected officials listen to and side with. The current system empowers the largely-white wealthy political class, diminishes the power of poor communities and communities of color, and blocks progressive policies from being passed.
To build a truly representative democracy, we must change how we fund our elections. That means approaching our broken campaign finance system in two ways: first by rebalancing the Supreme Court so that we can eventually overturn Citizens United and second by passing public financing at all levels of government.
Overturning Citizens United will require electing a Congress and a president who are willing to expand the Supreme Court and appoint justices who will put our democracy ahead of wealthy donors. Stand Up America is hard at work on both Supreme Court reform and electing democracy defenders at all levels of government.
Enacting public financing of elections would ensure our representatives are more accountable to their voters, increase the diversity of candidates who can run for office and win, and reduce the influence of the ultra-rich. Campaign finance reform advocates are hard at work passing programs in cities and states to increase the power of everyday citizens, such as small-dollar matching and voucher programs.
The Path to Winning
Stand Up America is committed to passing public financing programs across the country and electing democracy champions who are committed to these programs at the local, state, and federal levels.
With a truly pro-democracy Congress and president, we could also pass federal public financing programs—and appoint a Supreme Court that will finally end Citizens United.
Cities and states are showing us what’s possible with campaign finance reform. Local public financing programs have passed in Denver, Washington D.C., New York City, Oakland, and Seattle. The Stand Up America community helped pass the first statewide small-dollar matching program in the country in New York and a voucher program in Oakland. These programs are already reducing the power of wealthy donors in their communities and helping grow momentum for federal action.
If we elect the right leaders and pass more of these bold reforms in cities and states across the country, we can take a giant step forward toward a truly representative democracy that will finally act on the pressing issues facing our nation.