At a rally outside the Supreme Court, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took on the Koch brothers and said, “Freedom of speech does not equal freedom to buy the United States government.”
Sen. Sanders said,
In the long history of our country people have fought and died for democracy. Democracy means one person, one vote. The fact that all of us have the opportunity to be involved in the political process to stand up for what we believe in. Three years ago, or so the Supreme Court decided that corporations are people. They decided that through independent expenditures billionaires could spend unlimited sums of money to impact elections.
Let me say one word to you right now about how relevant that is. As all of you know, the government of the United States shut down. Hundreds of thousands of workers are suffering, millions of people are not getting the services they need. Right now, as we speak, in the House of Representatives there are people who are being threatened that if they vote for a clean CR to open the government without destroying the Affordable Care Act then huge sums of money will be spent against them in the next election.
We are living in a society where a handful of people with incredible sums of money, folks like the Koch brothers and others, are undermining what this democracy is supposed to be about. The bottom line here is that if we do not want to move this nation to an oligarchic form of society where a handful of billionaires can determine the outcome of these elections, then it is imperative not only that we overturn Citizens United, but that we put a lid on how much people can contribute in elections.
Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government
Sen. Sanders was present at the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in the case of McCutcheon vs. FEC. The Supreme Court will deciding the fate of the caps that limit how much donors can give to candidates and political organizations during a two year election cycle later in this term.
If the Supreme Court rules the caps unconstitutional, it will allow conservative billionaires to spend even more money in their attempt to execute a hostile takeover of the United States government.
The case is so dangerous to our democracy that President Obama weighed in on it today. The president called for spending limits in our elections, and spoke about the role that the conservative billionaires have played in shutting down the government.
Sen. Sanders is fighting the good fight, and if Americans want to know why the government is shutdown, all they have to is follow the money. Government shutdowns are bad, defaults are worse, but these tactics are nothing compared to the damage that the current Supreme Court is doing to our democracy.