Big Money, January 6, and the Future of Democracy

If you’ve been following the coverage of the January 6 hearings, you might have noticed a troubling connection: big money and brazen efforts to undermine our democratic elections.

The Supreme Court’s misguided 1976 ruling in Buckley v. Valeo established that the federal government could not restrict independent political expenditures. By essentially decreeing that “money = speech,” the Court opened the door to unlimited influence by the wealthy.

The remaining federal limits on direct contributions to candidates are a paper-thin protection against both corporate influence and millionaires and billionaires playing an outsized role in our political system.

How are the Super Rich “speaking” with their wallets?

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably known about the problems associated with big money in politics for years. It’s an age-old problem that people have been talking and writing about for decades.

But the recent coverage of the January 6 hearings has exposed a new iteration of this problem. It’s bad enough when wealthy interests use their resources to buy “speech” in order to influence how we vote. It’s even more shocking when they use their wealth to try to hijack the electoral process altogether!

Last week, the Brennan Center for Justice released a shocking report that shined a light on how the super rich have funded efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 elections and undermine confidence in our electoral system. Millionaires and billionaires were behind the frivolous legal maneuvers of the Trump campaign, the deadly January 6 assault on the Capitol, and subsequent efforts to “punish” so-called “disloyal” Republicans who didn’t support Trump’s attempted coup.

CNBC Article
“Pro-Trump dark money groups organized the rally that led to deadly Capitol Hill riot” by Brian Schwartz

Don’t dismiss this as mere history. It’s current events.

These wealthy donors are pumping tens of millions of dollars into the 2022 midterm elections, in order to install politicians who supported their antidemocratic efforts in 2020 and 2021.

Report from the Brennan Center
“The Money Behind January 6 is Flowing into the 2022 Elections” by Ian Vandewalker

Billionaires like Peter Thiel and Larry Ellison have each donated more than $20 million this cycle alone to boost “stop the steal” candidates. We need to step up our efforts to fight back and protect our democracy.

What can we do?

Previously, we’ve highlighted some promising legislative solutions in the works, like the Ban Corporate PACs Act and a proposed constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United and reign in corporate influence.

You can call your Senators today at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) and urge them to pass the Ban Corporate PACs Act today.

But it’s clear that nudging politicians is only part of the solution. We need to educate our fellow citizens and build public support for stamping out the influence of big money in politics.

Will you help spread the word about our movement to protect American democracy? Don’t just tell people, stamp it! THE PEOPLE SHOULD DECIDE ELECTIONS, NOT BIG MONEY!