We the People: Campaign pain as Election Day nears

Joe Lhota and other desperate candidates have turned to emotional and negative campaigning in the last weeks before Election Day. Mr. Lhota promised an aggressive new campaign style and delivered it with his attack television ad campaign against Bill DeBlasio.

It does not inform the public or explain what Lhota can do for the people of New York. Instead, it shows old photographs of what New York was like when other mayors lived in Gracie Mansion including his idol Rudolph Giuliani.

Lhota stated, “being a nice guy doesn’t make you … what you need to be as mayor.” Well, being a nasty person shouldn’t qualify you to lead the city either.

The television ad finishes with a clip from the recent motorcycle hooligan attack on the Henry Hudson Parkway. The narrator promises that New York will experience more of this violence if Bill DeBlasio is elected.

Really? The incident just occurred and if any mayor has to be responsible for it, it should be Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Unfortunately, in the political campaign game, facts don’t matter — only money matters. You need it to pay for the television time, for literature, mailings and for actors, writers and directors to make the message memorable even if inaccurate.

The Supreme Court is ready to unleash a tsunami of money on the public in the name of freedom of speech. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York just granted a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of the city’s limit of $150,000 from individuals to political action committees (PACs).

This win for big money political operatives will allow Republican fundraisers to pour money into the Joe Lhota campaign to defeat Bill DeBlasio. A power broker law firm in Washington, D.C. sued on behalf of a newly minted PAC which claimed its operation was unconstitutionally hampered by the $150,000 individual limit set by New York law.

An affidavit in support was submitted by Shaun McCutcheon, the Republican fundraiser, who is the plaintiff in a suit over individual contributions before the U.S. Supreme Court right now. The decision in Citizens United allowed corporations and organized groups to spend without limits in elections and McCutcheon and Republican National Committee v. the FEC

If a limitation on donations of money to political campaigns is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, then a billionaire should be given a billion votes in an election. The unfettered power of money to sway elections and control the media will drown the individual voter and give an unfair and unbeatable advantage to the political candidates that have the money.

It is unbelievable that the U.S. Supreme Court cannot see the potential for damage and unfairness that the elimination of campaign finance restrictions will wreak. Justice Scalia, a native New Yorker and champion of the jurisprudence of original intent, has stated that the Constitution should be interpreted with regard to the way the drafters understood it at the time it was framed and ratified.

You can’t adopt a philosophy and throw common sense out the window when dealing with an issue. Justice Scalia knows that in a real sense judges make the law. The strictest follower of original intent cannot believe that the drafters of the Constitution believed money should be equated with speech or political power.

This trend to empower wealth politically through the law has been adopted by the conservative judges on the Supreme Court. We should have a level playing field when we select our representatives, and if billionaires and millionaires can use their economic power without any reasonable restraint, then they will succeed in most elections due to that unfair advantage.

This is not good for the people of the nation and it is not good for the election process. If our citizens were represented and served by persons prepared to do everything possible for the greater good of the people we would not have these lawsuits or government shutdowns.

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