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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Sunday, March 25, 2012



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.

2012 can be a historic year  in American politics if enough  people  from  the  Occupy  movement and those in organizations working for universal health care,  the   end   of   war,   environmental responsibility  or  any  other  justice   issue  join together  to  call  on  our  politicians  to  declare publicly that they will put the interest of We the People  over    corporations   by  supporting  an amendment    that    will    abolish    corporate personhood,  declare  that money is not speech and  explicitly  ban  special  interest  money  in elections.

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.

1 comment:

  1. I've been making this point for a few months now. MTA will likely move in this direction once they are no longer a 501 (c)e corporation. For now they can't get involved in elections.

    I also think that your post here needs to be dropped on every Occupy Facebook page and website that you can find. I rarely want to see a blog page promoted widely that I didn't write, but this one stands out as a special exception. Get this post spread far and wide for the next few months. Stop spending time writing for now, and get this post read by thousands of people. Facebook Occupy sites need it, and there are hundreds of those. About a 100 MTA pages too, but you have to wait before you push them, or you'd risk a lawsuit. Seriously, push this around Occupy. MAny of them want to boycott the next election. YOu can help argue against that bad idea by speaking to the heart of one of their central issues: corporate personhood.