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Don't Let Big Money Drown Out Your Voice

Here's a question for you. Have you ever noticed, when a political campaign announces its fundraising totals for a period of time, they often make a point of highlighting the number or percentage of contributions that were "small dollar," that were under a certain figure, be it $100 or $250 or the like? Why do they do this? They do this because each of those contributions can represent actual votes, and a high number of "small dollar" contributions can translate to grassroots strength. A contribution of, say, $25 represents an actual person at the grassroots making their voice heard in our democratic political process.

Here's another question for you (and you thought there wouldn't be a quiz!). What is the impact on that grassroots supporter - that $25 donor trying to make his or her voice heard in the political process through a contribution - when the next contributor is legally able to write a check for, say, $5 or $10 million? The answer is that the first donor's voice - that "small dollar," grassroots supporter's voice - is truly rendered mute.

What's more, this isn't a hypothetical. We see this currently playing out in the Republican Presidential primaries across the country. Billionaire casino CEO Sheldon Adelson and his wife have - just the two of them - given $10 million to the pro-Newt Gingrich Super PAC. Meanwhile, the pro-Mitt Romney Super PAC has reported ten one-million dollar donors, four of which are companies!

Mitt Romney claims that "corporations are people" so, deep down, it must not bother him much that companies are able to cut million-dollar checks from their corporate accounts to influence our democratic elections. Nevertheless, the ability of Big Money - corporations and ultra-wealthy individuals - to unduly influence elections and effectively drown out the voices of millions of everyday Americans is an affront to our democracy.

As most of us know, this further tipping of the political scales in favor of Big Money is the result of the notorious Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Many have suggested that the strongest and perhaps only true remedy to the toxic impact of the Citizens United decision is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

To that end, there is a resolution pending before the Massachusetts Legislature, Senate 772, calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United. You can add your voice urging our state legislature to pass this important resolution. How, you ask?

Add your name to ProgressMass' letter to Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo:

Protect the Integrity of Our Democracy

Dear Senate President Murray and House Speaker DeLeo,

Massachusetts has a heritage of leading the way for our nation when it comes to defending our democratic principles and rights. From abolishing slavery in 1783 to recognizing same-sex marriage equality in 2004, our Commonwealth has been at the forefront of historic progressive battles for fairness.

Our democracy now faces another serious challenge as the basic fairness of our political process is under attack. When the U.S. Supreme Court made its 5-4 ruling on the notorious Citizens United case, it opened the door to an onslaught of unlimited corporate dollars that will effectively drown out the voices of everyday citizens and, with that, First Amendment free speech.

The only remedy to a Supreme Court decision so corrosive to our democracy is an amendment to our nation's Constitution. We, the undersigned, urge you to expeditiously bring S. 772 to the floors of your respective chambers of the Massachusetts Legislature so that our Commonwealth can, in one unified, progressive voice, declare that we still hold true to the ideal that, in a democracy, one person equals one vote, and that "free speech" doesn't simply go to the highest bidder.

By passing S. 772, Massachusetts will continue in its meaningful tradition of being a national leader in defense of democracy, fairness, and equality.

Signed,

[Your Name]

When a corporation or billionaire mogul can legally write a check for a political campaign that is literally one million times the amount of the contribution made by an everyday American just trying to make his or her voice heard in our political process, that process is fundamentally flawed.

We can repair this defect by overturning the Citizens United decision; and, passing Senate 772 in the Massachusetts Legislature is an important early step in that process. Please add your name to the letter. Further, amplify your voice by sharing the letter with your friends via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter (use the sharing buttons at the top of the letter!) and encourage them to sign the letter, too. Take action today!

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