The United States government has been under a systemic, financial attack by the elites in the country for almost a decade now. The root of this problem goes straight back to the 2010 Supreme Court decision which saw James Bopp and Citizens United argue for looser campaign restrictions. Bopp argued that corporations were essentially ‘people’ and that their ability to donate was just an extension of their freedom of speech. Of course, now it is clear to see what the ultimate endgame of Citizens United was: to flood politics with money from billionaires and millionaires who have a cause to rally behind. Nowadays, End Citizens United is a grassroots political action committee that has focused on introducing a constitutional amendment in order to undo the damage done by the Citizens United decision. Unfortunately, thanks to the election of Donald Trump this task may have just gotten harder.
Donald Trump rose to power on a populist message that thinly veiled his real goal, introducing more and more money into the political machine. Donald Trump took aim at the Johnson Amendment this past summer in order to get more money from the religious sector to flood into Washington D.C. The Johnson Amendment was introduced as the Johnson Act back in 1954 by Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson. With bipartisan support, the Johnson Amendment helped to keep tax-exempt religious services from entering the political machine. The trade off was simple, if you don’t pay taxes then you need to keep your political messaging out of your halls. Despite having widespread support for decades, Trump decided to take aim at the amendment in order to throw a bone to his far-right religious base.
End Citizens United knows that repealing the Johnson Amendment will lead to a dramatic influx of millionaires into the political arena. Imagine mega-churches that are suddenly allowed to donate their congregational earnings straight into the coffers of far-right politicians. End Citizens United is a grassroots political action committee led by Tiffany Muller. Their goal over the past two years has been to address the prevalence of dark money and elite spenders in Washington D.C. When millionaires and billionaires get to control politicians, the average American will end up losing.
According to a Pew Research poll nearly 66% of Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of letting the church impact the United States government. Still, the other third of respondents are vocal and on board with Trump’s bloviating and posturing surrounding the Johnson Amendment. Now, End Citizens United is engaging in a coordinated effort to bring awareness to the disastrous idea of repealing the Johnson Amendment. Progressives and moderates around the country will need to coalesce around this message in order to make it effective.