The CWA News | Making the Connection: Voter Suppression and Money in Politics

Volume 75, Issue #4 | Winter 2015

The Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme Court rulings are enabling wealthy and corporate interests to control our election process and public policy at every level. Coupled with the Supreme Court's Shelby decision, which dismantled critical voting protections, the result will likely produce a government of, by and for the 1 percent, unless we act.


NAACP President Cornell Brooks and Democracy Initiative partners call for an end to voter suppression and press Congress to restore Voting Rights Act.
NAACP President Cornell Brooks and Democracy Initiative partners call for an end to voter suppression and press Congress to restore Voting Rights Act.

Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, talked with the CWA News about the connection between big money in politics and the attack on voting rights. 

Question: How has the Moral Mondays campaign evolved, and how does this work connect with the fight for money out, voters in?

REV. BARBER: The Forward Together Moral Movement started in 2006 with 40 organizations, including the NAACP. We came together and crafted a 14-point agenda. Blacks, whites and Latinos and labor came together to fight for living wages, health care and expanding voting rights opportunities. Within the first year, we were able to win an extension of early voting, Sunday voting and same-day voter registration. In 2008, we saw black voting in North Carolina go from 40 percent to 70; voting by young people also grew. 

Then came the backlash. In 2010, the North Carolina Senate and House, taken over by Tea Party extremists, tried to pass strict voter identification legislation.  Extremists tried to deny half a million people Medicaid benefits, 170,000 people unemployment benefits and nearly 1 million people their earned income tax credits. Extremists took $1 billion from public education and looked to give millions to private schools. They passed the worst redistricting, apartheid redistricting, since the 19th Century. Their aim was to prevent blacks and whites from forming coalitions to elect candidates of their choice. 

We challenged these lawmakers with a framework that these policies are constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible and economically insane. April 29, 2013 became the first Moral Monday.

Question: What's the connection between big money in our political system and the efforts to block people from voting?

REV. BARBER: Big money is what's pushing the voter suppression and the extreme agenda that we are seeing. Money can't walk into a ballot box but the Koch brothers can fund the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)that writes all these draconian laws to keep people from voting. With the agenda that big money is pushing -- attacking labor rights, attacking the poor, attacking minorities, attacking women, attacking immigrants, attacking the LGBT communities -- they know they can't win in the public square if everybody votes.