Rhode Island Still Revolutionary
236 years ago, Rhode Island became the first colony to declare independence from the throne, on May 4, 1776, and seek democratic self-government. Today, Rhode Island became the fourth state to declare independence from the vast political spending that is corrupting that democracy. Just a few minutes ago, the Rhode Island House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (59-9) to pass S 2656, which asks Congress to send to the states a constitutional amendment to allow for regulation of independent political spending.
The Rhode Island resolution reads, in part, “Whereas, in a democracy the assurance of a fair and uncorrupted election process is of the upmost importance, and the Rhode Island General Assembly believes that it is a legitimate and vital role of government to regulate independent political expenditures. . . “ With this resolution, Rhode Island has stood up to the idea that so-called “independent” political spending does not corrupt our democracy.
Unlike the 1770s, we didn’t need to burn a ship to get people excited about this resolution. Rather, it just took actual citizens (as opposed to phony organizations like Citizens United) to speak up and attempt to throw off the yoke of this corrupting influence. It’s no coincidence that this is happening at the same time Rhode Island is beginning to see it’s first outside spending in one of its congressional races.
Two centuries ago Rhode Island led the way. It’s time again for the rest to follow.