Truth is at stake

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To the Editor:

What makes people decide whom they will vote for?

This is a subject that I’ve been delving into. Politics has always been complex, multilayered, and complicated, with multiple sides all demanding their side is right. The capacity of each of the “sides” to speak up became exceptionally unbalanced in January 2010, with the decision on Citizens United.

Because the majority of people in our country have no idea what Citizens United is or was, I’ll add this. In a nutshell, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision said that it is OK for corporations and labor unions to spend as much as they want to convince people to vote for or against a candidate. Although it is still illegal to give the money directly to a candidate, the court said that because these funds were not being spent in coordination with a campaign, they “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

If you’re not familiar with this, you might read that last sentence more than once. Yes, this came from the highest court in our land. Yes, this is how the super PACs formed after another court case SpeechNow.org v. FEC was decided.  The lower-court case used the Citizens United case as precedent when it said that limits on contributions to groups that make independent expenditures are unconstitutional.

Money was able to convolute our process, which had been so well guarded since Congress first banned corporations from funding federal campaigns in 1907 with the Tillman Act. In 1947, the Taft-Hartley Act extended the ban to labor unions. We maintained balance in our government until Citizens United.

I’ve heard President Obama say that we need to overturn Citizens United.  Bernie Sanders wants to overturn Citizens United to return the rightful power to all the people, not just the moneyed people. Corporations are not people. Corporations do not have a conscience, and are capable, like mobs, of moving in directions that no one person would travel. We the people need the people’s power back.

Since Citizens United, some of the media have been deeply influenced by PAC money, and no longer report the news as it really is in some cases, but a version that skews for or against a candidate, or other reporting with some facts that are untrue. Sadly, some of the young people in our country think that it’s always been like this, that this is normal. This is not normal, and it’s unacceptable.

This creation of false truths contributes to more confusion. So people in their confusion give up trying to understand it, and tend to vote for whom their family, neighborhood, friends, or other tribes or allegiances seem to be supporting, because they don’t really know what the truth is. People have been forced to give up their sovereignty, their very ability to know what is real. Doesn’t this sound truly insane?

This is a vitally important election in which the source of truth is at stake — yes, just like Joan of Arc. The truth is innocent, it’s just what is real, without paint or varnish, and it needs you to keep it alive; yes, you.

Vote for the only candidate who is truly not investing in fear. He wants us all to invest in hope and justice for all. Bernie Sanders has my allegiance, hands down; no one is in the same class, and has walked the walk — without swerving or doing any cha-chas.

Because of what happened, this perversion of money acting on freedom of the press and freedom of the people was and is wrong. This was an immense error, and if we can’t change it now, then nothing you will hear or see in the future will be something you can bank on, and it will make the people sad and uncertain. Billionaires will be spending billions to influence you this year, so be aware of this when you hear their claims. Their motive is to increase their profits, and Bernie wants them to pay their fair share, without massive loopholes. You have a choice; make it count, not only for you but for the people beyond your tribe. What we do to others we do to ourselves. May the force be with us all; trust your deepest self.  You can feel it.

Betty Martin
Chilmark