Friday, October 15, 2010

The Business Case for Fair Elections


By David Brodwin

This year, the United States Supreme Court reversed years of precedent limiting how corporations may spend money to influence elections. This decision will substantially increase the importance of corporate influence in politics—both in determining who gets elected and how they decide once they are in office.

As executives, owners, investors, and business professionals involved in sustainable and socially responsible business, we must ask ourselves: Are we helped by this greater freedom to spend our companies’ money to influence campaigns? Or has the Supreme Court handed out some poisoned candy? Is this new ability to buy political support good for business—or does it set us back in our efforts to do business responsibly and promote a vibrant, just, and sustainable economy?

Despite appearances, the gutting of campaign finance rules is more likely to hurt than to help. The main issue is not whether businesses can or cannot spend their money on elections. The main issue is which particular businesses and industries will dominate the spending, and whether the ideas they will promote are good for our businesses and good for the nation.

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