Opinion: Proposition 32 – California’s corporate coup
By Ernie Stone Nicholas Wiss | updated 8:00 am, October 15, 2012?&controls=2&modestbranding" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
At its core, Proposition 32 is a good idea; it’s the execution that’s sloppy.
When it comes to politics, the majority of people seem to enjoy fairness, we like the idea of everyone having an equal say in the process. This is why the idea of the special interest is so despicable; people inherently oppose the idea of corporations or unions holding more sway over political decisions than the average voter. This explains why Proposition 32, also known as the “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act”, has garnered so much attention this election season; Californians want to keep special interests out of politics.
However, Proposition 32 is not what it claims to be, as far from ending special interests in California, it will instead transfer almost all lobbying power to a single select group: corporations. Proposition 32 does this by preventing unions from collecting funds, as well exempting organizations like Super PAC’s.
Currently, the two major lobbying powers in California are the state’s various worker’s unions and assorted corporate interests. Both of these organizations use their funds to support candidates that they feel agree with their interests. Proposition 32’s language seems to put an end to that, as it explicitly prohibits both unions and corporations from deducting money from employee wages, or union dues, in order to fund campaign contributions. But here’s the catch: corporations by and large don’t collect for campaign funds this way; instead, most pull directly from their profits to pour into candidate funding. Unions, on the other hand, rely almost entirely on union dues to fund campaigns. This would effectively cripple union political power, and would allow corporate interests to run amok in Sacramento unopposed.
But doesn’t Proposition 32 prevent both unions and corporations from giving directly to politicians? Yes, while Proposition 32 does prevent direct candidate contributions, something already prohibited on the federal level, it does not prevent funding for Super PACs. But what is a Super PAC? A Super PAC is a committee that operates independent of a candidate’s campaign, but may campaign on their behalf with unlimited legal limits on expenditures. Corporations and unions often fund Super PACs so that they will more effectively campaign. Proposition 32 notably excludes any restrictions on the use of Super PACs, meaning that even if it were to pass, both corporations and unions would still be able to lobby Sacramento with little effort.
But what does all this mean for the average California citizen? Proposition 32 represents an ineffectual effort to curb special interests in California; instead it seems to simply solidify corporate dominance in lobbying politicians. It wipes out the power of unions, whilst simultaneously allowing the continued use of Super PACs to fund campaigns.
At its core, Proposition 32 is a good idea; it’s the execution that’s sloppy. As citizens, we should demand more. We need to call for an end to all special interests in California, not just unions. When Election Day rolls around on Nov. 6, just remember that Proposition 32 doesn’t have the voter’s best interests at heart. Instead, it helps the very special interests it claims to fight.