Move to Amend has made great strides in educating the public about the need to pass a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood, declare that money is not speech and that would direct federal, state and local governments to regulate direct and indirect campaign spending. From New York City to rural towns like Coos Bay, Oregon, citizens are passing resolutions calling for an amendment that would overturn Citizens United or do even more.
The question arises as to how we can translate this support into concrete action to move Congress toward passing the amendment. Clearly, most members of Congress now in office have little or no desire to do so. While a dozen or so amendments have been introduced in Congress, the best of them fall short and the worst are dangerous. Many only give Congress the power to regulate corporate campaign contributions. Congress has demonstrated that it has no interest in using such power if it would undermine the ability of the corporate tools among them to get re-elected.
Worse, this type of amendment would enshrine in the constitution the principle that corporate financing of campaigns is legal. If our goal is to end the corruption of Congress by corporate money, we need to demand that members of Congress support an amendment that will explicitly ban special interest money in elections, something the proposed MTA amendment does not do, according to some experts on constitutional law.
The only effective way to pass an amendment is to make support for it a campaign issue in 2012 and beyond. If members of Congress are more interested in keeping their seats than taking care of the needs and desires of the electorate, then we need to make their jobs dependent on standing against the corrupting influence of money in politics.
If people around the US descend on town halls during the election season prepared to ask candidates whether they will make a pledge to support such an amendment, the issue cannot be ignored any longer by the bulk of the “alternative” media. It will eventually seep into the public consciousness through the corporate media, which cannot ignore the issue when members of Congress begin to lose seats for opposing it.
This strategy cannot be ignored until we have 99% of the American public behind us. If we only follow the limited strategy of passing local resolutions calling on members of Congress to pass an amendment we will have lost the opportunity to affect the 2012 election debate and to set the stage for running candidates who support the amendment in every congressional race as early as 2014. We have seen how Congress and the White House respond to petitions already. It is time that we held them accountable at the ballot box for ignoring us.
The beauty of this approach is that since nearly 80% of both self-identified liberals and conservatives were opposed to Citizens United, a Pledge to Amend campaign may be the one way to bring together the left and Right in the common cause of putting America back on track to becoming a real democracy. We must strike while the iron is hot, connecting the dots between Citizens United and the failure of the US government to meet the basic needs of its citizens. I challenge anyone to name another such crucial issue as that has such widespread support across the political spectrum.
We all need to support the efforts of Move to Amend to raise awareness of the need for an amendment. I would suggest that Move to Amend also needs to support the efforts of those of us working to add this weapon against corporate control of the US government to our arsenal. Until we can agree to work together for our common goal, we will remain divided. With the many threats to the survival of human civilization from global climate instability, endless war and the twin threats of pandemic and mass starvation, the world cannot wait. An incremental approach to democracy in the US is as naïve as thinking Democratic incrementalism will get us there.