Sen. Bernie Sanders is often characterized by the media as an out of the mainstream presidential candidate, but a new CBS/New York Times poll revealed that 80% of Republicans agree with Sanders on the issue of getting money out of politics.
The CBS/NYT poll found that:
– 80% of Republicans believe that money has too much influence in our politics.
– 54% believed that most of the time candidates directly help those who gave money to them.
– 81% of Republicans felt that the campaign finance system needed fundamental changes (45%) or a complete rebuild (36%).
– 64% are pessimistic that changes will be made to reform the campaign finance system.
– 71% want to limit the amount that individuals can give to campaigns.
– 73% felt that super PAC spending should be limited by law.
– 76% thought that superPACs should be required to disclose their donors.
All of these positions are held by Bernie Sanders, and the opinion of the majority on each question is the exact opposite of the reasoning used by the majority of the Supreme Court in the Citizens United decision.
Where Republicans differ from the rest of the country is that a substantial number (48%) believe that money is free speech, and they believe that both parties benefit equally (62%), but among those who picked a party that benefitted more, they felt that Democrats (24%) benefitted more from the current campaign finance system than Republicans (6%). Fifty-five percent of Independents and 53% of Democrats felt that money is not free speech. Fifty-two percent of Democrats believe that Republicans benefit more from the current system.
In 2012, Sen. Sanders laid out why Citizens United is the threat to our representative democracy:
This is unprecedented and it is the most savage attack against American democracy, and the concept of one person, one vote that we have seen in our lifetime, and what it is is saying if you are a billionaire, you can buy elections. You can by politicians, and by the way, on the floor of the Senate, on the floor of the House, you can intimidate members, because you will be saying to them if you are going to vote against Wall Street, or the insurance companies, or the military industrial complex, you just do that, and we’re going to have millions of dollars in thirty-second ads in your state this weekend.”
So this whole effort to put huge unprecedented unbelievable amounts of money is the one percent saying look, we’re not content that the top one percent owns forty percent of the wealth. We want more. We want more. We want more, and we’re going to buy the political process to get what we want. So this is the worst assault on the basic democratic traditions which have made our country great that you and I have seen in our lifetimes, and what it means, we have to overturn Citizens United. We have to pass a disclose bill, disclosure legislation next month, which at the very least forces these CEOs to get on television when they do a negative ad, and say I approve this message, and it forces us to know who is contributing.
Overall, 84% of Americans agree with Bernie Sanders that money has too much influence in U.S. politics. Seventy-five percent favor donor disclosure and 77% favor limiting contributions.
Bernie Sanders isn’t as far out of the mainstream as the media likes to believe, and it is also clear that mainstream America wants their country back from the billionaires who are attempting to take it over.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association