A couple of weeks ago, I posted on a simple solution to the problem of getting money out of politics. I said then:
If the election you're voting in is virtually a two candidate contest, then vote for the candidate, who, in combination with her/his supporters spends the least amount of money. In a virtual multi-candidate contest, do the same thing.
That's the proposal, in its simplest form. Its objective is to reverse the current race to the bottom in buying elections by ensuring that there would be a powerful incentive to start a race to the top to raise and spend as little money as possible in campaigns. That incentive is that if you spend too much you lose, pure and simple.
The other rationale for the rule is that the person who raises and spends the least amount of money for a campaign, will generally be the person who is “less bought” by wealthy people, financial interests, and large corporations. Eventually, if the rule took hold it would no longer be said of the Congress that “the banks own the place.”Read below the fold...
Now that the quadrennial dog and pony show is behind us, I have been reflecting on the failure of every attempt to revive the voice of the citizens in post Citizens United America. The dismal turnout numbers that “More Money = More Free Speech” helps facilitate is purely understandable. I can no longer argue with people who refuse to participate in a rigged system. Yet the potential of this group of non-voters is undeniable. Non-voters have been the Holy Grail of progressives throughout our Republic’s history. The 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th & 26th Amendments were all purposed toward adding more voters and thus strengthening the Power of the People. Read below the fold...
Not sure whether you had linked to this story, but Montana's Supreme Court upheld a state ban on corporate money in political campaign; a direct challenge to Citizens United.
We had a whole lot of corruption because of the Anaconda Copper Mine's influence over politics that the citizens of Montana had enough and passed The Corrupt Practices Law of 1912. Read below the fold...
A Global View of the Interactive Voter Choice System
Joseph M. Firestone
We Americans have a problem. We're supposed to be a democracy responsive to the people. But polls show that policies favored by heavy majorities of Americans don't get legislated by either or both parties in Congress. Instead, bills are passed that a majority of people either don't care about, or view as a betrayal of their interests. People believe this is because both major parties are dominated by special interests who provide big money contributions to run their campaigns. In addition to these financial advantages, the major parties have gained control of the electoral system by structuring the rules of the game so that third parties cannot grow and threaten their domination. How can we get around this closed system, and either make the major parties responsive to us, or see to it that third parties can be successful? Read below the fold...
Joseph M. Firestone and Nancy Bordier begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting
We think most people agree that money has corrupted our politics. Some even think that we now live in a Plutocracy, and not in a Democracy, and that both parties are corrupted and now represent only the financial oligarchy. So, the central issue of our time is how can we break its hold? How can we overcome the influence of money in politics and make our political system more responsive to most Americans once again? Read below the fold...
In a response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision on the Citizens United Case, the Hawaii legislature has proposed a bill that seriously may have some meat to it.
HCR 282 requests the US Congress propose an amendment to the Constitution to “clarify the distinction between the rights of natural persons and the rights of corporations”.
In addition to limiting the corporate buyout of our upcomin’ elections, such a change could mean the liberal tides are finally turnin’ in the right direction. Read below the fold...
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today on Citizens United vs. FEC.
Live blog: http://www.scotusblog.com
PUBLIC INTEREST GROUPS CONDEMN SUPREME COURT'S RULING ON CORPORATE MONEY IN ELECTIONS, CALL FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO OVERTURN COURT DECISION
"Free Speech Rights Are For People, Not Corporations"
WASHINGTON, DC – A coalition of public interest organizations strongly condemned today's ruling by the US Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate money in US elections and announced that it is launching a campaign to amend the United States Constitution to overturn the ruling. The groups, Voter Action, Public Citizen, the Center for Corporate Policy, and the American Independent Business Alliance, say the Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC poses a serious and direct threat to democracy. They aim, through their constitutional amendment campaign, to correct the judiciary's creation of corporate rights under the First Amendment over the past three decades. Immediately following the Court's ruling, the groups unveiled a new website – www.freespeechforpeople.org – devoted to this campaign.
"Free speech rights are for people, not corporations," says John Bonifaz, Voter Action's legal director. "In wrongly assigning First Amendment protections to corporations, the Supreme Court has now unleashed a torrent of corporate money in our political process unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in US history. This campaign to amend the Constitution will seek to restore the First Amendment to its original purpose."
The public interest groups say that, since the late 1970s, a divided Supreme Court has transformed the First Amendment into a powerful tool for corporations seeking to evade democratic control and sidestep sound public welfare measures. For the first two centuries of the American republic, the groups argue, corporations did not have First Amendment rights to limit the reach of democratically-enacted regulations.
"The corporate rights movement has reached its extreme conclusion in today's Supreme Court ruling," says Jeffrey Clements, general counsel to www.freespeechforpeople.org and a consultant to Voter Action. "In recent years, corporations have misused the First Amendment to evade and invalidate democratically-enacted reforms, from elections to healthcare, from financial reform to climate change and environmental protection, and more. Today's ruling, reversing longstanding precedent which prohibits corporate expenditures in elections, now requires a constitutional amendment response to protect our democracy."
In support of their new campaign, the groups point to prior amendments to the US Constitution which were enacted to correct egregiously wrong decisions of the US Supreme Court directly impacting the democratic process, including the 15th Amendment prohibiting discrimination in voting based on race and the 19th Amendment, prohibiting discrimination in voting based on gender.
"The Court has invented the idea that corporations have First Amendment rights to influence election outcomes out of whole cloth," says Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. "There is surely no originalist interpretation to support this outcome, since the Court created the rights only in recent decades. Nor can the outcome be justified in light of the underlying purpose and spirit of the First Amendment. Corporations are state-created entities, not real people. They do not have expressive interests like humans; and, unlike humans, they are uniquely motivated by a singular focus on their economic bottom line. Corporate spending on elections defeats rather than advances the democratic thrust of the First Amendment."
"With this decision, the Court has abandoned its usual practice of adjudicating non-constitutional claims before constitutional ones, a radical departure that indicates how far the Roberts Court may be willing to go in order to serve the powerful 'business civil liberties' agenda," says Charlie Cray, director of the Center for Corporate Policy. "While the immediate effect is likely to be a surge in corporate cash in election campaigns, this could also signal the beginning of a sustained attack on the rights and ability of everyday people to govern the behavior of corporations, which, if successful, could effectively eviscerate what's left of American democracy."
“American citizens have repeatedly amended the Constitution to defend democracy when the Supreme Court acts in collusion with democracy's enemies, whether they are slavemasters, states imposing poll taxes on voters, or the opponents of woman suffrage,” says Jamin Raskin, professor of constitutional law and the First Amendment at American University’s Washington College of Law. “Today, the Court has enthroned corporations, permitting them not only all kinds of special economic rights but now, amazingly, moving to grant them the same political rights as the people. This is a moment of high danger for democracy so we must act quickly to spell out in the Constitution what the people have always understood: that corporations do not enjoy the political and free speech rights that belong to the people of the United States."
For more information on the constitutional amendment campaign, see http://www.freespeechforpeople.org Read below the fold...