Amy Domini has written a great OpEd in The Hill newspaper, detailing how Citizens United and a system based on privileged access for insiders hurt small businesses and innovators who are the real drivers of our economy.
The piece highlights the work of our partners, the American Sustainable Business Council and also mentions Free Speech For People’s work engaging business leaders in the campaign to put American democracy back on a level playing field.
Here’s an excerpt:
By allowing for unrestricted political spending by corporations, Super PACs and wealthy individuals, the free speech of the average person and small-business owner is severely marginalized, leading many to become either disenfranchised or disillusioned by the system.
The Citizens United decision substantially increases the influence of large corporations and the ultra-wealthy in politics—both in determining who gets elected and how they make decisions once in office. The ruling asserts that the legal construct of the corporation, created at the state level, should have the same constitutional rights as people to “speak” through expenditures in elections.
Executives, owners, investors and business professionals understand that this sort of influence of money in politics is harmful to our businesses and to the economy. Business confidence in the fairness and equity of the system is the lifeblood of our economy and the democratic process. As any economist will tell you, institutions do matter, and the Citizens United decision severely distorts the public debate through which these institutions rely.
In recent independent polling released by the American Sustainable Business Council, 9 in 10 small business owners stated they had a negative view of the role money plays in politics. In addition, 66 percent of those polled voiced their opinion that the Citizens United decision was bad for small business, with only 9 percent saying it was good.
The basis for their concern in this area stems from the fact that, as small businesses, they would rather invest in their business than in the electoral process. They are also firm believers in a level playing field that allows for fair competition, and they know they cannot compete with the mountains of cash thrown at politicians by large corporations to influence policy. This greatly distorts the incentives for these small businesses as the policies favoring corporations greatly alter the landscape of markets in which all businesses compete.
Companies ought to be competing in the marketplace, not in our elections. And citizens ought to be in charge of the government, not corporations. Every company in America should be willing to say that. That’s what nearly 2000 business leaders endorsed when they signed the American Sustainable Business Council’s Business for Democracy petition calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision. ASBC’s ally, Free Speech For People, joined in helping to enlist business leaders to sign this call.