Mourning Democracy

McCutcheon Rapid Response

Today’s Supreme Court Ruling on McCutcheon vs. the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) is yet another nail in the coffin of U.S. democracy.  The high court struck down the right of “We the People” to establish laws limiting overall campaign contributions by individuals.  Such limits have been set in an attempt to create a level playing field in our democracy for rich and poor alike.

The political playing field was already unequal, since over the years the Supreme Court has increasingly granted  civil rights and constitutional protections to corporations.  This expansion of corporate rights culminated in the infamous 2010 ruling in Citizens United vs. the FEC, which prohibits our right to limit corporate spending on elections through political action committees (PACs).  The Citizens United decision resulted in the overturning of campaign finance laws at the federal level and in states across the nation.  Today’s McCutcheon ruling is also disastrous for democracy.

Our local Nevada County Move to Amend group, which works in coordination with the national Move to Amend Coalition, held a rally this afternoon to protest the McCutcheon ruling.  “Rapid response” rallies were held in over 140 communities around the country.   Our group had pre-printed signs that said “Democracy is not for sale.” Sadly, we crossed out the word “not” on our signs because, evidently, democracy is for sale, now more than ever before.  Money counts as free speech.  Wealthy donors cannot be limited in aggregate campaign contributions. Corporations are treated as persons under the law.  Large Corporations, which control vast sums of capital, count as individual people.  The Market rules.  Money is God.  This is the secular religion that now rules our nation.

This is not democracy.  It is oligarchy–rule by the wealthy.

Move to Amend proposes a solution to both the gradual erosion of our democratic rights and the occasional cataclysms such as Citizens United and McCutcheon.  Since the Supreme Court interprets the constitution and there is no higher court to whom to appeal, amending the constitution is the only solution left to us.  There is a process by which to do this, and this process has resulted in 27 constitutional amendments intended to secure and expand the rights of all people in our nation.

The “We the People Amendment” supported by Move to Amend makes clear that corporations are not people and that money is not speech.  It has already been introduced into Congress.  Move to Amend affiliates, including our local group, are working to educate people around the country about the need to restore democracy to the people and to raise support for passing this amendment.

Building the momentum to pass this amendment will require the coming together of people of every faith tradition and spiritual perspective, indeed, anyone who cares about humanity, the earth and the common good.  It is time to amend the constitution to make it clear that corporations are not people, and money is not speech.

 

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127 Years is Enough

MTA freeway

All of the issues that I write about are tied together and exacerbated by growing corporate power.  Huge transnational corporations now dominate nature, culture, political systems, and the rule-making institutions of the global economy.  As an antidote, I support the movement to Amend the Constitution to make it clear that corporations should not have constitutional rights.

Last Friday, May 10, Guari and I took a two-hour shift holding freeway banners over the Brunswick Road overpass in Grass Valley.   The signs said “Corporations are not people” and “Money is not speech.”

Our local Nevada County Move to Amend Coalition  created and displayed the banners throughout the day as part of a coordinated action with other Move to Amend affiliates around the country.   The theme of this action was “127 years is enough.”  Groups in over fifty communities displayed freeway banners to commemorate the Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad Supreme Court case, which was decided 127 years ago, on May 10, 1886.   In that case, corporations argued that they are protected under the 14th amendment, the amendment that was passed to ensure equal protection of African Americans after slavery was abolished.   Since ruling in favor of corporations in 1886, in case after case, the Supreme Court has expanded the constitutional rights of corporations, leading up to the Citizens United case in 2010.

The goal of the Move to Amend coalition is to raise awareness and build momentum toward passing a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood and declare that money is not speech.

For background and a spiritual perspective on this issue, see my article, “Democracy is for People“.   You can also read a related analysis in “If It Doesn’t Breathe, It Doesn’t Deserve Free Speech,” an excerpt from my book, Shaking the Gates of Hell.

To stay informed, to take action, or to find an affiliate group near you, go to Move to Amend.  You can also check out Earth Justice Ministries “Projects and Campaigns” or Nevada County Move to Amend.

Amend the Constitution to Limit Corporate Power

Corporations are not people 3

Tonight is the first 2013 meeting of our local Nevada County Move to Amend coalition.  We are part of a national coalition that is working to pass a constitutional amendment that would abolish corporate personhood and make clear that money is not the same as free speech.

Why get back to work on this issue? We’ve all got many other important things going on in our lives.  (I’ve got my grandchildren to play with, for instance.)

Passing a constitutional amendment  in order to make it possible for human beings to limit corporate power may be a long shot.  The concept of  corporate personhood seems abstract, not so easy to understand.  And we know that there will be huge opposition to such a movement, with large corporations spending millions on lawyers, lobbyists, and media campaigns.

Still, it’s worth a try.  Since the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, many people have become concerned about corporate domination of the political process, and they may get on board with an amendment to limit corporate power.  To me, such a constitutional amendment is the most direct path we have to challenging corporate rule and making possible a democracy of, by, and for the people instead of of, by, and for the corporations.

Read more that I have written on this topic in “Democracy is for People,” adapted from an article published last May in Response Magazine.   Our Nevada County Move to Amend is on FaceBook.  Find out more about the national campaign at the Move to Amend  website.

Corporate domination of culture, economy, and politics affects every issue of concern and everything that is of value in life.  Find out more and join in the effort to amend the constitution and limit corporate power.