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This election day, voters in Steve Walsh and Lori Erlich’s districts** have the opportunity to vote on Question #4, a nonbinding, but very important, public policy question. Since non-binding questions are not covered in the Information for Voters packet we have all received from the state recently I offer an explanation of Question 4 here.
A “Yes” vote on Question 4 instructs our representatives and senators to send a constitutional amendment to the states stating that: 1) constitutional rights apply to people, not corporations, unions, or other incorporated entities, and 2) ‘we the people’ can pass laws to put reasonable limits on political spending.
Why is such a question necessary? The 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission declared corporations to have the same constitutional rights as people and took away the power of Congress and the states to limit campaign contributions and spending. Following this decision we have seen campaign spending skyrocket. Corporations, Super PACs , non-profits (401 c 4’s) and unions are funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns, dominating debate with their own interests and eroding citizen confidence in representative government.
Passing Question 4 is the first step toward a government that is once again accountable to citizens rather than to big campaign donors. It ensures that the voters’ voices prevail. Powerful interests have insinuated themselves into our political system over time – interestingly enough, mostly through Supreme Court decisions. In addition to election funding, they have used “personhood rights” obtained through the courts to get around laws passed by Congress. The founding fathers intentionally did not include corporations in the Constitution after seeing the devastating consequences of their domination in the England of their time.
A “Yes” vote on Question 4 allows “We the People” to express our desire to see our government returned to the People of this democracy. This is a non-partisan issue. I encourage you all to vote “Yes” on Question 4.
** The question is also on the ballot with different numbers in 6 other North Shore Districts: 1st Essex (Newburyport area), 2nd Essex (Newbury area), 4th Essex (Ipswich area), 5th Essex (Gloucester area), 6th Essex (Beverly), 7th Essex (Salem)