Saturday, January 1, 2011

Time to Overturn Citizens United

We're coming up on the one year anniversary of the Citizens United v Federal Election Commission ruling in the Supreme Court. In case you don't know what exactly that case was, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can be considered people, giving them the right of free speech. What this means is that corporations are able to create advertisements for candidates now without revelaing who really funded it. There are still laws however regarding direct contributions to candidates. I did a post on this during the election season (Decision 2010, brought to you by McDonald's in association with Koch Industries), not realizing until later that the joke about McDonald's was actually true. During the last election we saw a large influx of money and campaign ads for candidates from mysterious organizations with innocent names. The problem is those innocent sounding groups are shadow oraginations set up by corporations to scare voters into voting for the candidates they support. Then there was the groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that didn't hide behind shadow groups and inidated us with commercials. I mentioned in that article that we need to do something about this huge problem, and fortunately a group has.
The Coffee Party USA, in conjunction with Fix Congress First, Move to Amend, The Backbone Campaign and Center for Media and Democracy is hosting the For People Summit on the one year anniversary of the Citizens United ruling. Their goal for the summit is to make a push for the people to become the dominant influence in government, and not corporations.

The main goal of Fix Congress First is to get the Fair Elections Now Act pushed through Congress. According to Fix Congress First's website, under the Fair Elections Now Act:
"congressional candidates who raise a threshold number of small-dollar donations would qualify for a chunk of funding—several hundred thousand dollars for House, millions for many Senate races. If they accept this funding, they can’t raise big-dollar donations. But they can raise contributions up to $100, which would be matched four to one by a central fund. Reduced fees for TV airtime is also an element of this bill, creating an incentive for politicians to opt into this system and run people-powered campaigns."
Basically, if a candidate accepts federal campaign money, then it would be illegal to accept money from corporations and their PAC friends. And in order to get that federal money, they would have to take in donations from regular people and small donors. This would in effect give more of the power back into the hands of the people.

At the same time Move To Amend is taking a different approach to the issue. Rather than proposing a piece of legislation to end the practice of corporate donations and over turn Citizens United, they're proposing a Constitutional amendment that would redefine who "the people" in We the People are and shift our government from an oligrachy to more of a democracy. At the following Link you can read the various propositions that are being put forth to deal with corporate personhood, campaign finance and the like. The advantage of this approach is that the rules would be metaphorically etched in stone.

Back to the summit now, the reason the Coffee Party is having it is to bring the issue of corporate campaign donations to the public light more and by having it in Washington, it almost forces lawmakers to take notice of what the public thinks about this issue. If Congress doesn't stop it soon, the future looks bleak for average voting Americans as our voices will be drowned out by those with the money and influence to fund political campaigns that cater to the desires of big business and not middle America. That would only further establish the oligrachy currently running the country. We need take back our country and enbody what President Lincoln said in the Gettysburgh Address, "that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."

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