Opinion: Where do we go from here?

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Wow, last week in spite of thousands of people protesting across the country, the Republican Party chose to ignore the polls and pressure to pass the “Donor and Donald Trump Tax Relief Bill” or the “Tax Scam Act.” This 1,000-page bill was rushed through, unread, without debate, and, it seems, unedited. Not only was it a gift to the 1 percent and (President) Donald Trump but also a Christmas tree collection of special interest add-ons as well as a successful attack on the Affordable Care Act.

If nothing else, this tax act demonstrates that the Republican Party is only concerned about the selfish interests of themselves and the oligarchs that support their party. The ongoing conflict between the old guard on the Democratic National Committee and its progressive wing suggests that the Democratic Party as well is too beholden to its oligarchs.

This debacle must be the nail in the coffin of our nation’s belief that we have a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.” The Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision as well as other related bills and rulings that permit large donations and unrestrained lobbyists have brought our democracy to the edge of the cliff. It is time to abolish the root cause of most of the dysfunction in Congress.

I believe that the only solution is for all of us in the resistance to specifically address the Citizen’s United decision and force the Democratic Party to pass a constitutional amendment overturning Citizen’s United in a way that unequivocally states that “spending money on an election is not free speech and that corporations and other legally established entities including political action committees do not have the rights of citizens under the Constitution.” Any amendment that does not include such language can be overturned by a conservative Supreme Court for violating the First Amendment as they already have done on several occasions already.

I believe this so strongly that I am not going to support nor vote for any candidate that does not pledge to do so. I am spreading this message to all of my friends around the country and to all the progressive organizations that have been fighting the current administration as well. Changing this tax bill, passing Medicare for all, and raising the minimum wage are all important goals for the Democratic Party in 2018. But without getting rid of the obscene amounts of money running our elections, no serious change in our democracy will take place. I urge all of you to join me in taking this pledge and spreading the word as far and wide as possible.

In New Mexico all of our congressional representatives, with the exception of (Rep.) Steve Pierce, have co-sponsored resolutions to overturn Citizen’s United, but none have co-sponsored bills that actually include the necessary language. They must be encouraged to take a firm stand. I have talked with Sen. (Tom) Udall’s office, and he can’t be bothered to amend his bill. (Rep.) Ben Ray Lujan says he is unaware of the language issue. Money is not equivalent to free speech and should not be treated as such by our representatives and the Supreme Court. Please help save our democracy.

Hamilton Brown lives in Arroyo Seco.

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