Letter to the Editor

Is America up for sale?

The principle of democracy is that each eligible individual has the right to vote on candidates for elective office. Decisions voters make on whom they will support are based on their understanding of the positions that candidates hold on issues of importance to them as voters.

If voters made such decisions on the basis of what the candidates claimed they believed, the system would work effectively. Unfortunately, in our technological era where candidate advertisements abound in print and broadcast media, voters often base their judgments not on what a candidate believes but on what that candidate's opponent claims they believe. When campaign committees construct advertisements that lie about what their opponents believe, voters are often completely misinformed when they make decisions about who they will support.

Since advertising campaigns require financing that allows purchase of media time, a candidate's campaign chest determines how well and repeatedly they can misinform voters about the views of their opponent.

In a five-to-four decision, the Supreme Court decided that corporations should have an unlimited ability to fund campaigns; thus they guaranteed that elections would be up for sale to the candidate with the largest campaign chest. In other words, the Supreme Court endorsed the principle that Congress should be on sale to campaign contributors.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has embraced this principle even to the point of making vast contributions to Republican candidates using funds contributed from overseas. Apparently Congress is not just up for sale to Americans, but also for sale to foreign interests.

ALAN JOURNET, Ashland, Ore.