My Turn: New Hampshire can take a stand against political corruption

For the Monitor
Published: 5/22/2019 12:10:21 AM

We are at a crossroads in American history.

Sen. Lindsey Graham identified the problem of unlimited political spending four years ago: “Citizens United basically struck down parts of McCain-Feingold, and now it’s the wild, wild west. The only way you can change this, I think, is through a constitutional amendment. If we don’t figure this out soon, we are going to lose what has been a pretty good system. Money in politics has to be regulated, because if it’s not, you lose your influence. You lose your voice. Do you think unlimited giving by a handful of people doesn’t affect legislation? I’m in the place – I can tell you it would. So, ma’am, I don’t know, but somebody needs to figure out a way to deal with Citizens United, or we will lose the democracy that a lot of people died for.”

But nothing has been done to rein in unlimited political spending. And so we’re still on that path that Sen. Graham foresaw.

More than half of our country’s voters see political corruption as a crisis.

Seventy percent of us don’t have much confidence in our current government.

And an increasing number – almost half of us, now – don’t have any faith in our form of government.

There used to be broad agreement about the benefits of democracy – but not now. Now, two-thirds of voters believe that business and government officials “often work together to create rules that are harmful and unfair to consumers.” Now, only 17% trust government to “do the right thing.”

But what are the options? Socialism? Authoritarianism? Our country is truly at a crossroads. It’s time to fix our politics, before we “lose the democracy that a lot of people died for.”

Right now, we have a chance to make a difference. Our Senate is about to vote on legislation that would make New Hampshire the 20th state to call for a constitutional amendment to fix the problem of political corruption. House Bill 504 is similar to legislation that the Senate passed unanimously four years ago – and similar to citizen-sponsored measures that have been passed in 82 municipalities around the state.

It should be an easy thing to do, right? Call on Congress to send a constitutional amendment that 75% of Americans support out to the states for ratification. That should be easy, right?

But versions of this bill have been considered by every New Hampshire Legislature since the Citizens United decision was issued. And none of them have passed. Just more evidence of why 80% of us think special interests have more influence than voters.

As Sen Graham warned four years ago, we need to do something, soon.

HB 504 needs to be enacted so that New Hampshire can join the list of states calling for change.

That’s why I’m calling on the Senate to pass the bill and asking Gov. Chris Sununu to sign it.

And we’ll see whether New Hampshire citizens’ voices can be heard in Concord, or whether special interests have more control.

(Rep. Joe Guthrie, a Hampstead Republican, is a co-sponsor of House Bill 504.)


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