Bill Moyers, if you haven’t seen it yet, shared a great essay a few days ago, on the Citizen’s United decision, which gave corporations and wealthy individuals the go-ahead to invest unlimited sums of money in hopes of influencing American elections, and the subsequent campaign being waged by those attempting to buy said elections to defeat the DISCLOSE Act, which would make the details of spending known to the public. Here’s the video, following by a brief excerpt from the transcript.
…Let’s see if we’ve got this right: On the one hand, conservatives declare that corporations and the super-rich can spend all they want on exercising their First Amendment rights, but on the other, they demand to keep it secret so the rest of us can’t exercise our First Amendment rights to fight back? Have you ever heard of more cowardly lions?
It’s one big joke. Big enough to make you cry. Three things don’t go together: Money. Secrecy. Democracy. And that’s the nub of the matter. This is all a sham for invalidating democracy in the name of democracy. It’s the trick authoritarians always use to hide their real intention — in this case absolute power over our public life and institutions: the privatization of everything. The Supreme Court is pointing the way. Instead of mitigating the worst excesses of both the state and the private sector, the Court has taken sides. Saying to the massed wealth of the one percent: America is yours for the taking, for the buying.
That’s what George III thought, too. Which brings us back to our celebration of the 4th of July, to the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson, who seems to have thought that a little uprising now and then would be good for what ails us. This time the overweening power is not the monarchy but plutocracy, the convergence of the political, religious and corporate right that would keep us in the dark about where all that money is coming from, and who it’s buying, until one day we wake up and our country is no longer our own. Fortunately, those orange jump suits come in one size fits all. So remember, moneyed lords and ladies, what King George learned the hard way – you can only push your subjects so far.
While we’re on the subject of Citizens United, and the folks who are fighting the DISCLOSE Act, I’d like to put in a good word for Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who I recently had the pleasure of meeting in Providence, at the Netroots Nation conference. We only spoke briefly, but I was able to hear the Senator speak on two panels during the conference, and I was very much impressed by him. Unfortunately, though, as one of the more liberal members of the Senate, he’s one of those individuals being targeted by the new, unregulated ads being propelled by anonymous, post-Citiens United dollars. Here, with more, is a letter that I just received from Brown.
…Since the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision in Citizens United, a tidal wave of undisclosed, special interest cash has crashed down on races all across the country.
Here in Ohio, we’re seeing more than our fair share of their spending, with more than $9.4 million in special interest attacks already aired against us.
We don’t know where all this money is coming from, and we don’t know what kind of right-wing agenda those donors are pushing. But what we do know is that the Supreme Court won’t be revisiting its decision anytime soon.
It’s up to us to stop the flow of secret, corporate cash in our elections — and a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United will accomplish that. It’s a long road, but if we work together — it can happen.
In America, the people — not the special interests — get to elect their leaders. Our democracy is not for sale.
But as long as this Citizens United ruling stands, the special interests will continue their onslaught of TV attack campaigns — and continue to try and drown out the voices of real people.
We’re already taking steps to shed some light into the dark corners of our election process. The DISCLOSE Act, which would require certain organizations to make the names of their large donors public, will be coming up in the next few weeks.
DISCLOSE would be a good start, but we need to go further. The constitutional amendment I’m supporting would give Congress and the states the power to pass their own campaign finance laws, and keep undisclosed, unlimited corporate millions out of American elections for good.
With the Supreme Court unwilling to change course, it’s up to us to end Citizens United and take back our democracy…
More on the DISCLOSE Act can be found here.
And, if you’re so inclined, you can send Brown a few dollars here.
[This post is brought to you by the Move to Amend.]