Opinion

In Order to Promote Democracy, Corporations’ Influence Must Be Regulated

With the passing of Proposition 22 in California, large corporations' influence on the outcome of elections has become clear. In order to uphold democractic structures, the government needs to expand regulations on corporate advertisement and lobbying.

Throughout history, the United States has always prided itself on one specific attribute: democracy. As citizens, we have the freedom to make our own decisions and use our rights to guide the country in desired directions. However, we have entered a reality where there are external factors that tend to have great influence over the outcomes of elections. Corporate coercion plays too large of a role in government, and we must make changes in policy to decrease such extreme interference.

One of the most recent examples of this phenomenon is Proposition 22, which was passed in California on November 3. Through this proposition, app-based drivers for companies such as Uber, DoorDash, and Lyft are considered independent contractors, rather than employees, which denies them certain benefits such as healthcare. As expected, the aforementioned companies were invested in the “Yes” vote on Prop. 22. In total, they spent over $200 million dollars on the campaign. In opposition to their stance, multiple labor unions funded the “No” on Prop. 22 campaign with a less competitive $20 million. In a country where money equals power, it is evident that these large, profit-based corporations have learned to use legislation to advance their financial interests.

When considering this issue, a primary concern is how these companies can legally have such a powerful stance in elections. Back in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations could financially support “electioneering communications” to sway the outcomes one way or another, holding that it was included in their rights to free speech. This was as a result of the case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission (FED). The ruling validated corporate personhood, which is an ongoing subject of debate about whether such constitutional rights should apply to corporations or not. Since 2010, corporations have gained massive amounts of power nationwide by influencing elections with donations, endorsing politicians, and profiting off such partnerships. Instances like Prop. 22 demonstrate how corporate personhood is just an excuse to take power away from citizens and put it in the hands of big companies.

Just like the separation between church and state, a separation between money and politics would greatly benefit workers and society as a whole.

Profit-based organizations and the government have completely different motives, which shouldn’t be meshed together. Just like the separation between church and state, a separation between money and politics would greatly benefit workers and society as a whole. We should undertake specific reforms in order to change this from an idea to reality. Overturning the rulings from Citizens United vs. FED would take corporate power out of elections. Additionally, we should apply restrictions on business lobbyists, which would limit corporate influence on individual politicians. In general, corporations would still profit off their business with the public, but be held accountable under the law. 

Every day, voices of citizens are silenced by large corporate powers. However, we can combat this in several ways. We can outwardly oppose corporations like Uber and Lyft. In future elections, we can vote against propositions similar to Proposition 22. And most importantly, it is crucial that we demand sweeping reforms to restore the power of our democracy.

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