Making the people’s voices louder than big money in Arkansas | Arkansas Blog

Monday, May 18, 2015

Making the people’s voices louder than big money in Arkansas

Posted By and on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 10:54 AM

click to enlarge BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson

They say that money talks, but in the Arkansas midterm elections last November, money was talking so loud that it was hard to hear much else.

By the time all was said and done, outside spending in the Arkansas Senate race had reached almost $40 million. It ranked among the top five Senate races in the country for the most outside spending. Local stations struggled to keep up with the deluge of around-the-clock political ads.

People in Arkansas may have gotten fed up with the influx of cash and the endless barrage of attack ads, but now they are turning that anger into action. In recent months organizers have been working to get a question on the 2016 ballot requiring increased disclosure of political spending and calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United that paved the way for unlimited outside spending in our elections. On Tuesday, local and national leaders will march to the Arkansas state Capitol to rally in support of this ballot initiative, calling attention to the big money takeover of state elections and tapping into the grassroots energy calling for change.

The ballot initiative would do a couple of important things. First, it would require more transparency in political spending in Arkansas, allowing everyday people to know who’s behind all the political ads and special interest money. Second, it would make clear that the people of Arkansas believe that lawmakers in the state and across the country should be able to set reasonable limits on money in elections. While this seems like a common-sense idea, rulings like Citizens United have left lawmakers unable to set those limits. As a result, outside spending in elections across the country has skyrocketed.

Together, it would be a big step forward for our democracy. Arkansas would join 16 other states and more than 650 towns in officially calling for an amendment to get big money out of politics.

One thing is abundantly clear: our big-money system is out of control. Leading up to the midterms, a single super PAC spent a million dollars on one week of ads in Arkansas. That’s not exactly the political system of, by, and for the people that our founders envisioned.

But we can change that. The state motto, regnat populus, means “the people rule.” Indeed, the political power in Arkansas, and across the country, is supposed to be centered in the hands of ordinary people. Now we have to fight to get back to a system that honors that state motto — one where we the people are in the driver’s seat of our democracy again.

Marge Baker is the executive vice president of People For the American Way. Jill Nguyen is a graduating senior at Hendrix College and a member of the Alumni Board of affiliate People For the American Way Foundation's Young People For Program.  

Tags: ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Jason Rapert vs. Wikipedia

    Sen. Jason Rapert against the world: Wikipedia edition.
    • Jan 23, 2016
  • Among the last words from Kenneth Williams: 'Finger Lickin' Good Fried Chicken'

    What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas.  He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • Charter school accountability: Non-existent in Arkansas

    A state audit finds charter school spending violated state law, but the state Education Department says it has no responsibility for ensuring proper management of charter schools. Say what?
    • Mar 5, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

  • Football is king, Bentonville edition

    Good analysis in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of an unannounced Bentonville School Board vote last week to put $2 million into a football stadium for West High School despite board assurances in last May's tax election that no money would go to a football stadium.
  • But what about the Clintons? Last refuge of Trump, New York Times

    Trying to compare Donald Trump's reaction to the Russia investigation with Bill Clinton's dealings with Kenneth Starr should be a non-starter if the facts mattered. But these days — and to the New York Times — it ain't necessarily so.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation