Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Overturning Democracy... With Lots Of Cash


Yes, Mitt Romney is clueless

Below is an essay about Norman Solomon I found on the Campaign Watch Facebook page. Virtually every problem facing America today can be traced back to the sell-out of our democracy to plutocratic, corporate and fascist interests-- virtually identical-- since the forces of democracy ostensibly won, at least on the battlefield, World War II. I want to emphasize that when Blue America "vets" our candidates we want to make sure they stand for the same values and principles behind this statement. You can be sure that when you donate to Norman Solomon's campaign-- or to the campaigns of any of the Blue America-backed candidates-- you are voting for real campaign finance reform, the kind that will wrest our government out of the hands of, as George Bush put it, the evil doers... except, the real evil doers.

Big Corporate Campaign Contributions

A major problem that has crippled democracy in the U.S. is the unfair advantage that big-money corporations and individuals have in influencing political campaigns through large contributions to elected officials and candidates, as well as through their spending billions of dollars each year to lobby Congress and federal agencies. These special interests use their considerable wealth to influence the direction and scope of legislation and government regulations, at the expense of the rights and welfare of the rest of us.

Norman Solomon supports legislative efforts, such as government matching funds and public financing, to correct the problem of disproportionate funding of campaigns, reduce special interest influence on elections, and level the playing field in electoral politics. Norman Solomon supports legislative efforts to reduce the reliance of candidates for office on campaign cash and free them to spend time with constituents to learn about issues that matter to them. When the selected candidates enter office, they can consider legislation on the merits, without worrying about whether they are pleasing large campaign contributors and lobbyists. Norman Solomon wants a government that is of, by, and for the people-- not bought and paid for by big corporate campaign contributions.

Corporate Personhood

A central problem in campaign financing is that corporations are considered persons, and political spending is considered speech under the First Amendment. In January 2010, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission which asserted that the Constitution bars Congress from limiting corporations to spend money, viewed as free speech, in independent political broadcasts in candidate elections. In the year after the ruling, corporations increased their role in our elections, and corporations and their CEOs have used non-profit groups to run multi-million dollar ad campaigns to influence elections and public policy without full disclosure of their financial interests. Norman Solomon stands with roughly 80% of Americans, including Democrats, Republicans and independents, who oppose to the Citizens United ruling.

Norman Solomon endorses the movement to reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights. We need to have a national conversation about what to do about the problem of corporations having too much influence in our politics and policies.

The doctrine of corporate personhood has allowed corporations to enjoy other constitutional rights that were intended solely for human beings. This allows corporations to evade democratic control of their actions. Based on the doctrine of corporate personhood, the Supreme Court has:

• prohibited routine inspections of corporate property without a warrant or prior permission, even to ensure public health and safety;

• struck down state laws requiring companies to disclose product origins, thus preventing us from knowing what’s in our food;

• prohibited citizens wanting to defend their local businesses and community from encroachment by corporate chain stores from enacting progressive taxes on chains;

• struck down state laws restricting corporate spending on ballot initiatives and referenda, enabling corporations to block citizen action.

Norman Solomon believes this form of corporate personhood corrupts our Constitution and must be corrected by amending the Constitution.

Norman Solomon agrees with the dissent of Justice Stevens in the Citizen United case that:

…The conceit that corporations must be treated identically to natural persons in the political sphere is not only inaccurate but also inadequate to justify the Court’s disposition of this case.

In the context of election to public office, the distinction between corporate and human speakers is significant. Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.

Norman Solomon is committed to take those measures “designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.”

Election Integrity

Free elections are a cornerstone of the American compact. Norman Solomon supports a national, uniform set of voting rules to make it easier to vote and easier to access ballots. Norman Solomon supports voter registration procedures which will create greater voter turnout, particularly among young people, such as registration on election day and convenient voter registration places like the local mall or supermarket. Norman Solomon supports alternative voting methods such as early voting and absentee voting.

Norman Solomon supports voting systems based on paper ballots that allow the voters to mark their own ballots and provide a permanent, visible record of every vote cast. Vote counting must be transparent and accountable to ensure every citizen’s right to vote. Norman Solomon supports ending the practice of contracting private corporations to carry out fundamental election functions, such as the maintenance of voter lists. In addition, Norman Solomon supports exit polling, complete sharing of data, statistical analysis and auditing to verify election results. Norman Solomon would support an initiative to make election day a national holiday, thereby increasing voter participation.

In addition, Norman Solomon supports organizations that track the influence of money on elections and public policy and make this information accessible to the public. As the influence of money becomes more transparent, Americans can become more informed about what their elected officials are doing and more involved in the process. As a consequence, government can become more accountable and responsive to the non-wealthy citizens of this country.

Judicial Accountability

Norman Solomon supports complete financial disclosure, disclosure of gifts, and recusal in the instances of actual and apparent conflict of interest for all federal judges, including Supreme Court Justices. There needs to be more transparency from all federal judges when their actions come under responsible criticism. Norman Solomon supports proposals to require justices to explain their decisions not to recuse themselves when parties file disqualification motions.

Agree? Please consider making a contribution to Norman's campaign-- or to the campaign of any of the Blue America candidates-- here on the 2012 congressional page. They've all enthusiastically agreed to co-sponsor John Larson's bill to take corrupt cash out of the driver's seat of politics.

Labels: , ,


At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotta love those Job Gods, hurray, hurray, hurray...

At 10:11 AM, Anonymous BetNot said...

Can you say, legislating from the bench?

At 12:21 PM, Blogger Decidere said...

As Glenn Greenwald noted, the ruling didn't say corporations had equal rights - it said they had fewer rights, but still maintained some 1st amendment rights.



Post a Comment

<< Home