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Letter: Stop Flow of Political Money

To the Editor:

It was good to learn that, as of earlier this month, 100 towns in New Hampshire had passed warrant articles calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. I hope more towns in New Hampshire will do the same at their town meetings in May, and forward their resolutions to the state Legislature and to Congress.

While money has always had some influence on politics, there were at least some restraints on it until Citizens United. No longer. Since then, the wolf has slipped his leash, and feeds freely on the rest of us. The flow of big money into our current elections dwarfs any previous experience, and forces elected officials to spend two-thirds of their time fund-raising instead of actually governing. And those who succeed in winning office start raising money for the next election cycle immediately after being elected. The 2012 elections in this country were the most expensive in the history of the world, and by far most of the money spent on elections in New Hampshire came from out of state. In fact, the 2012 state elections in New Hampshire were five times more expensive than in 2008. We now live in the age of the endless political campaign. This is madness.

Now only the wealthiest among us can afford to make their voices heard, and can do so without disclosing who they are. To be genuine, free speech and free press depend on an open marketplace of ideas. But when big money can smother competing ideas and ordinary citizens’ access to public office, and do it by stealth, free speech and press become an empty ceremony, and democracy becomes a shadow play.

The vast majority of New Hampshire’s citizens, Republicans, Democrats and independents alike, want an end to Citizens United. I hope New Hampshire will join the rest of New England and 16 states nationwide in calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn that decision.

John Raby

New London