Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
The SCOTUS decision – generally referred to as Citizens United – declared that corporations are people just like you and me. That is, of course, if we’re citizens / people who have millions to spend on elections.
But could Citizens United actually help unite we the people / citizens? Efforts are underway to overturn CU, though of course, even if eventually successful, they won’t have any impact on 2012. Super PAC spending is obvious.
Rep. Ted Deutch and Senator Bernie Sanders have introduced The OCCUPIED Amendment, H. J. Res 90 and Saving American Democracy Amendment, S. J. Res 33. From The OCCUPIED Amendment website, Justice John Paul Stevens from his dissent to CU:
‘Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office … . Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.’
I always feel the need to add a “yet,” following Stevens’ statement that corporations “cannot vote or run for office.” It would be the next, “logical” step, wouldn’t it, to have corporations casting votes (maybe one for every million of their net worth) and/or running for office? We could do away with all that time and money required of even a mere Two Party primary season, and just let Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo, Exxon/Mobil, CitiBank, etc., debate, via their now openly paid representatives.
But back to the OCCUPIED Amendment website:
The Constitutional Amendment introduced by Rep. Ted Deutch and Senator Bernie Sanders will end corporate influence in our elections by:
Overturning Citizens United and outright banning the ability of corporations to use their profits to influence our elections.
Making clear that corporations, as well as entities formed to represent corporations — are not real, living people with rights protected by our Constitution. …
Reasserting the authority of Congress and the States to crack down on anonymous third party groups flooding our elections … and to limit campaign contributions and expenditures by individuals, candidates, and all types of private entities.
Meanwhile, doesn’t it sound like a good idea that we Little Citizens would know where Corporate Citizens are spending their money? Not to some Electeds. Republicans Vote to Block Transparency on Political Ads:
The opponents of a new rule to post political ad information online have opened up another front in a long-running fight, inserting language into an appropriations bill that would bar the Federal Communications Commission from implementing the transparency measure.
Transparency, apparently, isn’t considered appropriate (by some) for Corporate Citizens. Plus, Big Media (is) Making Bundles From 2012’s Campaign Finance Excesses. “Big Media” is a key player in the CU political culture, of course. And they don’t want to upset the Corporate Citizens by making it easy for Little Citizens – via online posts – to learn details, like how much and to whom mega-contributions are being given.
Pity the poor billionaires, write Bill Moyers and Michael Winship.
… according to the website Politico.com, the so-called ‘mega-donors,’ unleashed by Citizens United … are upset that their massive contributions are being exposed to public view … .
Paul Waldman (The American Prospect, writes) … ‘Wall Street titans have been whining for a couple of years now about the horror of people in politics criticizing ineffective banking regulations and the favorable tax treatment so many wealthy people receive … . America’s barons feel assaulted, victimized, wounded … . And now that the presidential campaign is in full swing, their tender feelings are being hurt left and right.’
Moyers and Winship talk about the “bipartisan nature of avarice,” citing Adam Bonica, an associate political science professor at Stanford, who
… has put together a data base indicating that since 1979, 377 members of the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans have given almost half a billion dollars to candidates of both parties, most of it in the last decade.
The hope of the OCCUPIED Amendment and other efforts to overturn Citizens United is based largely on enough Little Citizens demanding Corporate Citizens become simply corporations again. Along with a lot of other people, I’d say it’s an essential fight. From Nation of Change, Fran Korten writes “Use The People’s Veto to End Citizens United.”
Across the country the momentum is building, spurred by organizations such as Free Speech for People, Move to Amend, Public Citizen, People for the American Way, and Occupy groups. The legislatures of Hawaii, New Mexico, and Vermont passed resolutions endorsing a constitutional amendment to reverse CU. The city councils of New York, Los Angeles, and many other cities and towns have passed such resolutions. In April 2012, attorneys general from 11 states recommended an amendment. Thirteen U.S. congress members have introduced amendments addressing CU. In December 2011, the Montana Supreme Court defied the CU decision, ruling that Montana’s Corrupt Practices Act, which curtails corporate spending on state elections, remains valid—a ruling the U.S. Supreme Court has stayed while it considers whether to review the case.
A significant part of watching the 2012 elections is watching how Citizen’s United is playing out. Of course, we’ll live with CU for this election year, and probably well beyond. Constitutional amendments take time, and a great deal of persistence. But the efforts to overturn Citizens United could be one way we unite, and eventually reject the SCOTUS decision for Corporate Citizenship. Whether that happens, or not, is our “we the people / citizen” decision.
(Corporations Fund Campaigns poster via Internetocracy)