Ethan Explains California Proposition 59

Ethan Explains California Proposition 59

This is number 9 of 17 of the California statewide ballot initiatives in 2016 that I’ll cover. Proposition 59 is the “California Overturn of Citizens United Act Advisory Question.

Money in politics is corrosive to a democratic system as the person with the most money can buy the most influence.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was ruled on by the United States Supreme Court in January of 2010. This ruling said money is equal to speech and protected under the First Amendment. Further, “the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. While corporations or unions may not give money directly to campaigns, they may seek to persuade the voting public through other means, including ads, especially where these ads were not broadcast.”

Bad news for our country, right?

But Proposition 59 doesn’t fix this ruling. It is an abuse of the ballot initiative process by crowding the ballot with a non-binding advisory that changes nothing, nothing about money in politics.

As I argued in my book, “Liars & Whores: How Big Government and Big Business Are Working to Save Their Own Assets, Not Yours,” money is not speech. From the book:

Money is not equivalent to speech. Money is a substitute for bartering goods or gold. Money and bartering alike are methods of economic transaction, not forms of speech. If you traded a goat for a sheaf of wheat, would you consider that speech? Or how about an iPad for an Xbox, still speech? Corporations, unions, and non-persons should not be able to participate in political campaigns as individuals.

What I also find interesting is the volume with which my friends on the left argue against Citizens United, yet they leverage it to their advantage every bit as much as my friends on the right. Take a look at what OpenSecrets lists, you’ll see just as many liberal groups with money as conservative.

Again, Proposition 59 solves nothing and is a simple grandstanding move.

I say NO to Proposition 59.

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