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Can America fix its politics five years after Citizens United?

Can America fix its politics five years after Citizens United?
A protest calling for an end to corporate money in politics and to mark the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision is held in Lafayette Square near the White House. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

To the editor: I appreciate Michael Hiltzik's column about the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision. ("Five years after Citizens United ruling, big money reigns," Jan. 24)

As a retired history professor, I used to enjoy debating with my students about whether history repeated itself. I would try to present the hope that it did not repeat itself exactly, and although there may be parallels, we as Americans could learn from our mistakes.

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But then there was the Iraq war even after the debacle of Vietnam and the resurging power of the gun lobby even after the Reagan shooting and the Brady Bill. Now we have Citizens United even after Watergate; the root of that scandal was the excess amount of campaign money President Nixon's reelection committee had amassed to influence the 1972 election.

It will take real courage by the voters to change Congress and eventually the Supreme Court to reverse the effects of Citizens United and restore my faith that we learn from our mistakes.

R. Pierce Onderdonk, Tehachapi

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To the editor: Hiltzik writes, "If you're wondering why issues favored by a majority of Americans such as raising the minimum wage, gun control and net neutrality get scarcely any attention in the halls of Congress, the Citizens United case is the reason."

Prove it.

He probably can't, for the simple reason that none of these issues got much attention before Citizens United. Republicans were opposed and Democrats weren't motivated to push, and maybe people had other priorities, such as the economy and jobs. Money is nice to have, but ideas and votes are what really count.

We are trained to think of money as unseemly, but it is really essential for our democracy. Without it we get an entrenched elite pushing their view of what is good for you.

Frankly, money is the mother's milk of democracy, and I am glad we promote speech rather than restrict it. We can ignore speech we don't like and we can fight it with more speech, but when it is restricted, we get a closed society.

William N. Hoke, Manhattan Beach

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To the editor: Hiltzik's column should be required reading for every lawmaker.

I think that we are at a time when it is no longer far-fetched to say that, if you are an average working person, a minority, a female, a student or in a family with little health insurance, every time you vote Republican, you probably are voting against your self-interest.

Michael Carter, Alhambra

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