(Charlotte, NC) – Whether it’s a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows large donors to control candidates by flooding the airwaves with ads critical of President Obama or getting favorable right-wing rulings by state and local judges, the Republicans have made it an art form to twist elections in many ways that include voter ID laws and other forms of preventing traditional democrats from voting, according to panelists who took part in a Progressive Democrats of America “Peoples Convention” in Charlotte, NC.
In fact, President Obama recently suggested a Constitutional Amendment may be needed to fight a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United v. the FEC that allows outside pocket-books to flood the airwaves and newspapers with partisan political ads (unchecked ads that are often misleading or outright lies).
Meanwhile in the South and especially Georgia, that art form has been turned into a Doctorate in Science by Republicans and other right-wing interests by using judges and judicial rulings to ensure voter suppression and block many other moral issues important to Progressive Democrats.
“One of the reasons why our state legislators really move to get judges on the ballot is that’s the way they have gotten control,” said the Rev. Terence A. Dicks, a progressive Democrat and political activist from Augusta, Georgia.
“In Georgia we have that situation” of Republicans hand-picking judge races on the local and state levels, said Dicks, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) Southern Regional Organizer and PDA State of Georgia Coordinator.
“This is an important thing because we have three branches of government and it is often the judiciary that is used to” create Republican right-wing legislation, said Panel Moderator John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger.
“Many elections are fought against the judiciary because … it is so corruptive,” said Nichols, who has written the Beat since 1999 and whose writings receive international attention, are quoted in numerous books and are mentioned in Congressional debates.
While the U.S. Supreme Court sets the laws of the land, the state Supreme Court Justice races are extremely important as they and lower level judges often create those laws.
Voters must pay attention and promote candidates in the races for their respective state “supreme court justices,” said Dicks, who believes Democrats need to return to their traditional progressive MLK-era values.
Dicks said that Republicans make sure they handpick their local and state judges because they know rulings will go in their favor – and litigating to the U.S. Supreme Court is often too costly for those who oppose the “crazy” right-wing rulings – and the cases rarely reach the top court in the land.
“We really have to get more organized and sophisticated on these state and local judgeships because it is really doing us in – because a lot of these people (judges, right-wing politicians) are doing all that local level crazy stuff and it ends up in the (U.S.) Supreme Court – and we lose,” Dicks said.
“So I think that’s one of the things we really have to ask questions (about) and look at,” Dicks said of the importance of state and local judge races – and for that matter all races.
‘We are not using the democracy that we have,” Dicks said.
PRESIDENT OBAMA and THE CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) corporations and unions have free-reign on spending for election-related communications like those seemingly nonstop political ads on TV and elsewhere.
But in an interview last month with the Reddit website, President Obama said eventually “we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United” if the decision is not revisited by the court.
“Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change," Obama wrote.
President Obama has an important chance to shows progressives in the Democratic Party that he means business by making a platform in this campaign based on moral and clean election issues like the Citizens United Ruling and other cases like worker’s rights and protecting the environment.
Nichols said Republicans clearly believe that “there is not enough money in politics” and “they will defend The Citizens United ruling and they are absolutely adamant about it.”
Meanwhile Pres. Obama could take action that shows Democrats clearly believe that outside monies should not be tolerated in a land of the true Democracy.
“When you talk about clarity” between the values of Republicans and Democrats “we are in a very interesting moment” in American politics, said Nichols, who is a Washington political writer for The Nation magazine.