Future of Delaware Politics in Post-Citizens United Age

Comments to special forum on the future of Delaware politics in the post-Citizens United age, hosted by Delaware Common Cause on November 9, 2011, by PDD President Paul Baumbach

This Supreme Court’s Declaration of Dependence—We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all corporations are created equal to all men, that corporations are endowed by this Court with certain unalienable Rights, among them these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of undermining the political system with impunity and without limit or oversight.

The Citizens United case has few equals.  The only decision as horrendous that I can think of is the Dred Scott case before the Civil War, where the court ruled that blacks were not citizens and could not sue in federal court, and that Congress has no right to ban slavery from US territories.

Thank you for inviting me here to speak with you regarding the Citizens United decision, and what we can and should do about it.

My name is Paul Baumbach.  I came to college here in 1979, and returned to raise my family in 1990.  I established a business here in 1996.  I have been involved in local politics since 2004, and currently serve as the President of the Progressive Democrats for Delaware.  I am a Democrat because I feel that the policies promoted by this party is far better for our state and country, and I am a Progressive Democrat because I feel that our party’s policies can be improved by prioritizing equal rights, economic fairness, environmental stewardship, and full, unchecked access by all citizens to the political process.

Political types such as myself are often frustrated when less-involved citizens claim that the person matters more to them than the candidate’s party.  This is especially true here in Delaware.  Well, there are times that the party matters.  Citizens United is such a time.

Five Supreme Court justices voted against our citizens, and instead voted in favor of corporations and other organizations having unchecked, unlimited, and invisible impact on our political process.  Those five Supreme Court justices were nominated by three US Presidents, George W Bush, George HW Bush, and Ronald Reagan, all from the Republican Party.  Candidates certainly matter, but so does political party.

There is a stark difference between our two leading political parties, in the matter of constitutional interpretations.  If you feel that it is good to rewrite history and Supreme Court precedents, to reverse advancements such as a reproductive rights for women and a social safety net for our seniors, then you want a Republican President making future Supreme Court justice nominations, resulting in decisions even worse than Citizens United.

I don’t.

The impact of Citizens United clearly crosses political lines.  No single political party benefits from the Citizens United decision, because unlimited, secret political influence is a two-way street, it can work against you as easily as for you.  Therefore no political party is especially helped by the decision.  What is harmed, however, is our democracy, our one-person, one-vote system, and the trust that we place in the fairness of our political system.  This trust is quite simply required for our system to work, and all of us must work to restore that trust in the system so devastated by the Citizens United decision.

It is quite obvious, and wonderful, that a broad cross-section of Americans (Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and others) oppose the Citizens United decision, and that bipartisan and non-partisan groups such as Delaware Common Cause are leading the way to bring transparency to political spending in Delaware and across our country.  Progressive Democrats for Delaware is committed to working alongside of all who wish to ensure that political influence is transparent.  Will you join us?