This is the personal blog of Rick Staggenborg, MD. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Take Back America for the People, an educational 501.c3 nonprofit established by Dr Staggenborg.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011


The solution to the problem of the corruption of Congress by corporate money has become obvious to those who understand the danger to democracy of the Supreme Court doctrine of corporate personhood. We have no choice but to pass a Constitutional amendment to abolish the practice of allowing our Senate to be purchased by international corporations with no concern for America or its citizens.

If we can convince one senator to introduce an amendment that will make it illegal for corporations to pay for the obscenely expensive election campaigns of this thoroughly corrupt body, this solution will become apparent to all but the most stubbornly ignorant voter. The result would be to light a powder keg that would destroy the system of crony capitalism that our nation has increasingly become. If we make support for such an amendment a campaign issue in every subsequent election, we cannot fail to destroy the culture of corporate corruption and take down the Machine that controls Congress.

Corporations acting independently and in collusion constitute the vast right wing “conspiracy” that operates at the expense of the ordinary American. Of course, it is not a true conspiracy since they often act independently, but they almost always move with the understanding that sharks do not attack each other. Our wealth and our youth are squandered in their blind pursuit of power and privilege as CEOs play Monopoly while the rest of us try to play the game of Life. Other nations and the lives of their citizens are destroyed by the endless quest for power and wealth of these international corporate terrorists who have brought us to the brink of endless war.

I have been of the opinion that the only way to get an amendment abolishing corporate personhood on the floor of Congress if to elect a non-professional third party candidate to the Senate. There are thousands of Americans who are abundantly more qualified to serve the people of the United States than the corporate tools now in office. It would be nice to be wrong, because this would entail a lot of work and organizing. Perhaps more critically, it would take time that we may not have, given the accelerating pace of the restrictions of our freedom of speech, association and petition to redress the grievances that now threaten to spark a violent revolution.

I had hoped that independent Senator Bernie Sanders would have the courage and imagination to understand the necessity introducing this amendment. I was disappointed that he somehow did not after I asked him directly if he would introduce the amendment as a caller on the national broadcast of the Thom Hartmann Show. I do not want to question his motives of one of the most respected members of the senate and to be fair, I did not hear his response because I was cut off abruptly after the question. However, I have not heard any response from his office after many attempts to get an official statement on his position since February of 2009 and no public action has been taken by his office to act on the suggestion.

While I am actively advocating for the creation of a national fusion third party, I still have hope that the wisdom and patriotism of one or more of the small group of uncorruptible senators now in office may take action soon. I have just got off the phone with an aide in the office of Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR). Senator Merkley has been an exceptionally courageous advocate of average Americans in advocating for single payer health care, real financial reform and elimination of the filibuster rule, among other causes that have failed to win the support of a majority in his party. Senator Merkley told me on a visit to Washington in February that he would “be inclined to support” such an amendment. The question that I have asked him to consider is whether he will actually introduce it.

The reasons for a Senator to hesitate to take such bold action are obvious. To be elected, one must win the support of one of the major parties, or so the political reality has been until now. With widespread defections from the Republican Party and alienation of the Democratic wing of that Party, this political reality is changing and may become a thing of the past unless the Democratic Party begins to respond to the will of the People and puts their interests over those of its corporate patrons. Like investors in the housing bubble, some may be aware that the situation cannot persist indefinitely but none seem willing to risk to stop the madness as long as they seem to be profiting in the short run.

Another reason for pause is that politicians are accustomed to doing the political calculus to determine whether a given position will help or hurt their chance of re-election. This is not entirely cynical, since a perfectly honest politician will be punished by an electorate that complains that all politicians are dishonest but punishes them for taking unpopular positions. Such was the fate of Oregon’s own once-popular senator Wayne Morse. Morse served with distinction as both a Republican and then a Democrat as a maverick voice of the People. He was ignominiously rejected after years of service when he dared question whether the Gulf of Tonkin incident was manufactured to sway public opinion in favor of war.

The senator who introduces a Constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood will in effect be launching a war against corruption among his or her own colleagues, never an easy thing to do. Such a senator would not find many allies brave enough to risk the enmity of their more corruptible fellows and would clearly become the target of attacks by the corporate media and the millions or even billions the corporatocracy would be willing to spend to defeat the re-election of anyone with the temerity to challenge its control of our government. It is a lot to ask of someone who spent a lifetime climbing the ladder to their position, with no guarantee of success.

The risk of becoming the focused target of derision, scandal, lies and all the other tools of the corporate media is daunting to any senator for both personal and professional reasons. Few would be willing to take the risk of lighting the fuse that would start the revolution against the plutocrats who see ruling America as their birthright. The risk would clearly be mitigated if a group of Senators would act in concert to introduce the bill together, but each of them would have to face the prospect of being rejected by voters who could fail to appreciate what their senator is trying to do on their behalf.

In the end, it comes down to whether our politicians will continue to believe the notion that only by protecting themselves from being a target can they do anything to help the middle class, restore the economy, reduce the risk of war or whatever they went to Washington to accomplish to serve the People. This is the cause of the serious psychological disturbance popularly known as the “Beltway syndrome.” It is a psychotic condition characterized by the delusion that politicians must allow themselves to be corrupted by corporate money in order to serve the public. In reality, it is impossible to serve two masters and it is the responsibility of the American public to make that clear to their Congressional representatives.

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