Removing ‘Citizens United’?

I was actually looking for something else, but sometimes that’s how one stumbles across interesting tales from the other side of the political spectrum. So it is with a group, recently formed in Salisbury, called Move to Amend – Salisbury.

To give you a taste of their political views, this is from their Facebook page:

We are starting a local affiliate of Move to Amend, which is an organization that since 2009 has been challenging the corporate takeover of our democracy (via unlimited campaign contributions or “buying” of candidates) via ballot initiatives, citizens referendums, and the like. The ultimate goal is an Amendment to our Constitution which overturns the Supreme Court decision Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. In case you are unfamiliar with that case, the long and short of it is that since 2010, there are no protections keeping corporate money out of politics. For this reason politicians will increasingly pander to the will of corporations, who are driven by profit motive, and will not weigh the concerns of actual People as heavily. The Amendment we are proposing will define “We the People” as Human Beings only.

This issue is a cornerstone for many issues that affect our democracy. We know that the debate on climate change is limited because both Republican and Democratic candidates receive millions in funding from fossil fuel companies such as the Koch Brothers. We know that the debate on healthcare is limited because both parties are financed by the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. The parameters for the debate about sustainable farming are determined by chemical fertilizer companies and genetical (sic) modification companies like Monsanto. The interests of the People for healthy, sustainable, just futures cannot be served alongside the short term money interests of these gigantic amoral entities. Our political leaders must be accountable to Human people, and individual votes, not to boards of directors and multi-million dollar bribes.

Did you know the Koch Brothers are a fossil fuel company and Monsanto is a genetical modifier? Me neither. I thought they said corporations weren’t people. But there’s one thing I’d be curious about, and that’s whether they feel the same way about unions extracting dues from their members for political use.

The Move to Amend movement is one of those national organizations which has a series of local affiliates, of which Salisbury’s is new enough to not be listed yet. Of course, they’d like to see corporate money eliminated from politics and don’t equate money with free speech, so my question to them is: what is free speech then?

Their local goals are a bit more modest, though:

The idea is that with a handful of supporters we will attend a City Council meeting and make a presentation about passing a municipal resolution, similar to those already passed in 137 other cities nationwide. These resolutions all add to the critical mass needed to put a new Constitutional Amendment before the American People for a vote… on whether or not to overturn Citizens United and once more return democracy to the People, not Corporations.

I’m sorely tempted to attend their meeting on Thursday night just to see how far they get with their goals, and also remind them the American people don’t vote on Constitutional amendments. We are still a republic, not a democracy or tyranny by Executive Order – at least not quite yet:

The second meeting of Move to Amend’s agenda will include: (1) hearing from the study group members who committed to learning about Constitutional issues relating to the passing of an amendment, and also from the study group members who committed to researching ways to “blunt” the impact of Citizens United (short of the proposed Amendment itself). (2) We will vote on the exact language of our proposed ballot initiative. (3) We will mobilize to get the ballot initiative on the ballot!

Of course, given the makeup of our City Council I wouldn’t be surprised to see this on the ballot and the half-asleep Salisbury electorate which bothers to show up might be dumb enough to pass it – that is, unless they do their homework.

But let’s go back to why Citizens United went to court in the first place:

At issue are sections of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain-Feingold) that imposed a blackout period before elections on television advertisements that mentioned the name of a federal candidate — electioneering communications…the United States Supreme Court, in Federal Election Commission vs. Wisconsin Right to Life, ruled that groups could not be prohibited from running genuine issue ads, during the blackout period, but the FEC has insisted that such groups must still put disclaimers on the ads and file reports about the ads, including naming their contributors. Citizens United is challenging these disclosure requirements, arguing the ads for the film, Hillary: The Movie, is a commercial ad, exempted in recent FEC rulemaking, and that disclosure requirements cannot be applied to such ads consistent with the First Amendment.

It was not because of the whole “corporations are people” red herring, but to contest the ill-advised McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws which turned out to benefit the very entrenched power brokers Move to Amend claims to be against. Moreover, it matters not who contributes to an election because the people have the final say.

Yet having the freedom to contribute to a political campaign is, to me, an expression of free speech. It’s the same typical leftwing cadre in Salisbury which has its panties in a wad about this subject, and Move to Amend is just another effort at corporation-bashing and stifling speech they don’t agree with on their part.

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  1. […] talked about this group awhile back, and the local chapter of Move to Amend was out adding to the minor amount of political […]

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