What would happen if we held an election and the special interests didn’t show up? That’s what occurred in the Los Angeles City election on May 21, when the voters considered whether to pass Proposition C. The results were astonishing: the measure passed with more than 76% of the vote.
Proposition C posed the following question to the LA voters:
“Shall the voters adopt a resolution that there should be limits on political campaign spending and that corporations should not have the constitutional rights of human beings and instruct Los Angeles elected officials and area legislative representatives to promote that policy through amendments to the United States Constitution?”
Unlike the usual special interest-funded campaigns we’re used to, the “Yes on Proposition C” campaign was organized by the Money Out/Voters In Coalition (MOVI), a grassroots organization of about 600 individuals and a handful of community groups working to remove the corrupting influence of special interest money from our political system. No campaign committees were formed and no corporations, unions, billionaires or PACs spent millions of dollars for or against the measure. There were no television, radio, newspaper or billboard advertisements; no high-tech robo-calls; no paid phone bankers or canvassers.
Without the usual blizzard of special interest campaign ads, and with almost no news coverage by the mainstream Los Angeles media, the voters only had two tools with which to base their decision on Proposition C: their “Official Sample Ballot and Voter Information Pamphlet” and their common sense. With these tools they clearly stated—by a three-to-one margin—that America needs a constitutional amendment limiting campaign spending and stating that corporations shall not have the constitutional rights of human beings!
The full range of the Los Angeles political spectrum supported the passage of Proposition C, and the overwhelming support for the measure was spread throughout the city. This result is demonstrated by the breakdown of the “Yes” vote by congressional district shown in the table.
The lesson from this election is that when the voters are left to their own wisdom and analysis, and are provided with clear and accurate information, they make wise decisions. This is one of the most compelling arguments for getting special interest money out of our elections. On May 21, Los Angeles took a stand along side more than 175 cities and 13 states that have passed resolutions similar to Proposition C. This vote was one of the biggest steps to date towards the reversal of the United States Supreme Court’s misguided decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and ending corruption in our elections, and it will certainly not be the last.
Eventually, to preserve their control over our politicians, the special interests will begin fighting back against citizens’ measures like Proposition C. When this happens—and it will happen as sure as day follows night—the voters should remember Proposition C and the pride they now share in overwhelmingly voting to restore our democratic republic in an election where the special interests did not show up.
Mary Beth Fielder
Money Out/Voters In Coalition of Los Angeles
Tuesday, 17 June 2013