The only way to challenge the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United is through amending the constitution. Since we cannot muster support for a constitutional convention given the fears on both the Left and the Right that the “other side” will prevail, we must get such an amendment introduced and passed in Congress. Those who think that we can restore the democratic Republic by electoral and campaign finance reform legislation are not paying attention. The Supreme Court has made it clear that public financing is off the table for now the Democratic leaders are too deluded to even whimper about the theft of votes on a massive scale.
The seeming paradox of how to get an amendment passed in Congress has baffled even such luminaries as Thom Hartmann, Jim Hightower and Amy Goodman, all of whom seemed to ignore the fact that dozens of candidates in 2010 were willing to run for Congress on a pledge to amend. Where were they when we were trying to point out that by making this a campaign issue, with their assistance we could have challenged both Republicans and corporate Democrats? Hartmann alone has three million listeners and viewers every weekday. He and Hightower sit on the boards of the largest and most influential progressive organizations in the nation. Goodman has thousands of loyal followers. The idea that they fail to realize their collective power is incomprehensible.
Hartmann declined to have me on the show when I was running for the US Senate. He repeatedly dismissed the idea that passing an amendment was possible when I called in to the show to talk about why I think corporate personhood can be abolished. Hightower stopped answering my emails and ignored my phone calls. Goodman covered the 2010 Netroots Nation, where we met for the second time. I watched her interview a candidate who appeared to be 25 years old, only to ignore my speech the night before about the critical importance of electing candidates who had taken the pledge.
Rather than question the motives of these great spokespersons of the Left, I would prefer to think that the problem is a failure of imagination. Hope for change is great, but real change will only happen when partisan Democrats and Republicans are willing to challenge our elected representatives of both parties. President Obama told us throughout his presidential campaign that we needed to create the change that would compel him to do what must be done to save American economically, socially and morally. We cannot expect him to do much better than he has if we do not demand that Congress challenge corporate interests and stand up for We the People.
Thousands of us worked for real health care reform but the single payer, Medicare-for-all solution was all but ignored by Congress. Instead, we were treated to the spectacle of watching 13 doctors, nurses and lawyers arrested at the Senate Finance Committee hearings for asking questions about why single payer was off the table when representatives of the medical-industrial complex were all at that same table. It was predictable that the Democratic leadership would sell out the American people in the end from the outset. When the public option plan was unveiled as the starting point to negotiate with a party that never met a corporate robber baron it didn’t like, it was obvious that any real reforms would be traded away in the end.
The same can be said for promises of real financial regulation, winding down the wars, protecting citizens facing foreclosure and essentially anything else that Americans need or want. If the gatekeepers of the Left continue to see their only function as getting Democrats elected, we have already lost the battle for democracy in America. Further capitulation to corporate Puppet masters will lead us inevitably the rest of the way down the slippery slope of fascism. If on the other hand progressive pundits wake up to the fact that we have very little time to act then we may still have reason to hope.
The abolition of corporate personhood is not just another issue. It is THE issue that must be addressed in order to get a Congress willing to put the interests of Americans over those of transnational corporations. The beauty of the concept is not just that it strikes at the heart of corporate power over government but that it is the only issue that is likely to bring together people who consider themselves conservatives with those who think of themselves as liberals. With 80% of both self-described conservatives and liberals opposed to Citizens United, the time has never been better to come together as Americans to fight for justice.
With the enormous unpopularity of Citizens United making this issue one of the few on which most Americans agree, the failure of pundits on the Left to aggressively promote Move to Amend is stunning. The easiest way to build a progressive movement is to build it around one central issue on which all progressives and in this case most conservatives agree. Those who have been fighting for single payer health care, an end to the war and economic and environmental justice must realize that the only way to assure victory is to force candidates seeking federal office to take a firm position on whether they are running to serve We the People or the corporations that currently have a stranglehold on the US government.
It would take little political courage to champion the cause of the abolition of corporate personhood. The popularity of such a position would virtually guarantee victory for anyone running for either of the two major parties who would support it. The enthusiasm gap between the Left and the Right would become a thing of the past. The only downside for candidates who take this position is that it will likely cost the jobs of corporatists in their own party. Until we have candidates who will put their country over their party, nothing will change. That is why it is critically important that everyone who hopes for change will become active in the Move to Amend campaign to abolish corporate personhood.