Ballot initiative aims to limit government corruption

Natalie O'Dell, Business Manager

Although many teens see politics and the government as boring and irrelevant, and as yawn-inducing as many political terms and concepts may seem, it is important that we keep an eye on our government and use our rights as citizens to influence policy to benefit our interests as much as we can.  Although opportunities to do so are few and far between, there will be one on the ballot on November 6th in the state of Missouri called Amendment 1. It aims to reform essential parts of the political system by limiting the government’s corruption, which is essentially legalized bribery by various forces, like the very rich and corporations, in order to buy policy in their favor, in our state’s politics.

The first thing Amendment 1 does to fight this blatant corruption is ending gerrymandering.  Although this might sound like a monster from a bad kid’s movie, it is actually a political term that refers to the redrawing of congressional districts for the state, which is explained in the video above.  Although it is easy to see why the average citizen would look past this, its a crucial concept because it is used to unfairly manipulate election results by drawing district lines in favor of one political party over another. Therefore the politicians may not actually represent what the majority of the population wants.  If this amendment is passed, the congressional map will be drawn by a panel-chosen demographer, which is just a fancy word for a map maker, and can only be changed if 70% of the lawmakers can vote on it within the first two months. Although I am skeptical about how the panel will choose the demographer, I think this will make important progress for making our elections fair and democratic, and, if nothing else, will serve as a call for further action.

The second, and perhaps the most important part of the amendment, is about campaign finance.  I know that the term alone is enough to make you fall asleep, but it is actually the strings that control the entire political system, and is behind nearly every policy made at the expense of the people.  How it works is companies and powerful organizations manipulate politicians into making policy that benefits their interests by donating large amounts of money to their campaigns, which tends to work to the people’s disadvantage.  This is why so many of our politicians represent the rich and corporations, instead of the people they are supposed to be serving, and why policy ideas popular among the people rarely make their way into law.

This amendment will limit campaign donations from any individuals, organizations, and corporations to $500 for a Senate candidate and $100 for a House of Representatives candidate.  Although I don’t think corporations and interest groups should have any influence in our elections whatsoever, I recognize that this amendment will serve as a step in the right direction.

Another important issue covered by this amendment is lobbyist gifts, which is similar to campaign finance, but perhaps even more destructive.  The bill reduces them to $5. I don’t think lobbyists should be able to give gifts at all, but it will still limit a lot of their power, and according to the amendment’s website, it will eliminate more than 99% of lobbyist gifts.  

I am excited to cast my vote in favor of this amendment on November 6th, and, if you want to help this state’s policies represent our interests, I recommend that you do the same.

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