Tomorrow is the 5th anniversary of the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision — which extended first amendment “free speech rights” to individuals and corporate entities. It’s also the 5th anniversary of the launch of the Move to Amend coalition. What follows are a few reflections to mark these anniversaries.
Trying to keep up with, let alone respond to, the staggering number and severity of problems in our communities, state, nation and world is virtually impossible. The threats — whether political, economic, or environmental — are real, imminent and severe. They numb the mind, paralyze the body, and stunt the soul.
Many of the our most series problems…
Be they local budget crises
The Ohio budget crisis
Or the federal
Efforts to “privatize” Ohio’s prisons
And municipal services
Drilling or “fracking” for oil or gas in our state parks
Or in our back yards
Hot and cold wars for oil
Or oil spills
Lack of living wage jobs
Exponentially increasing public debts
Attacks on the rights of people to collectively bargain
(Insert any other pressing economic, political and environmental problem here)…
Spring, derive, emanate and originate from a single source:
Business corporations, almost always very large business corporations, exerting their influence.
Their supposedly “inalienable” constitutional “rights.”
There are, of course, other factors that contribute to the aforementioned problems.
But arguably no other single factor has been more responsible for these problems through, by and because of…
– Corporate political contributions.
– Corporate lobbying.
– Corporate political advertising.
– Corporate influence in writing laws and regulations directed at corporations.
– Corporate mobility that, by playing one community, state or nation against each other, exert leverage for favorable tax breaks, funding, incentives, guarantees, and protections
– Corporate placement of chain stores, toxic dumps and drilling pads protected by constitutional 14th amendment “equal protection” rights that trump local and/or state rights – which hurt local economies, environments and self-determination.
– Corporate takeover of many of our public assets and services, including the license to print money.
The list goes on.
Corporations were never intended to possess political, economic or constitutional powers and rights.
Corporations are legal creations of the state. They wouldn’t exist and couldn’t function with their legal protections unless governments shielded them.
Such protections in the past came with a condition – a democratic condition:
Public control and definition through the corporate charter (issued mostly at the state level) that specifically defined their parameters. Early in our history, those parameters included a prohibition against anything directly or indirectly related to political influence and governing.
That was until corporate agents won rights and powers in our constitution that were reserved exclusively for human beings.
– Inalienable rights.
– “Personhood” rights.
– Rights “found” in the constitution for corporations by Supreme Court Justices that were never intended.
Talk about “judicial activism!”
Corporations should possess certain protections to conduct their business.
But only by statute.
Only by laws passed by We the People and representatives after debate and discussion.
Only to the extent people and elected representatives feel comfortable with.
Such protections shouldn’t be equal to, let alone surpass, the rights of people.
The created should never be more powerful than the creator.
Only humans have inalienable Bill of Rights and other constitutional rights.
So what do we do?
What can we do?
How do we prioritize?
Where do we place our limited time, energy and resources?
Especially when problems, crises and chaos seem to be coming from all directions?
1. Recognize and internalize that many of the different problems we face derive from the single source of never intended corporate constitutional rights. If this means you say to yourself every morning while eyes closed and tapping your shoes together “Corporations are not people” then do it,
2. Continue to educate, advocate and/or organize on the problem(s) you care most about. As you do so make the connections to corporate constitutional rights. Acknowledge and publicly proclaim at least in part why the problem(s) you care about spring, derive, emanate and originate from corporate power and rights. This also requires that you shift some of your time, energy and resources (10%? 15%? 50%? That’s your decision.) away from responding, reacting and resisting to these manifestations of corporate rights. Time to act, proact, create and initiate by…
3. Work to directly end corporate rule. Become involved in Move to Amend, the national (movetoamend.org) and state (movetoamend.org/ohio) movement to amend the US Constitution to abolish corporate “personhood” and legalize democracy.
The two tenants of Move to Amend are:
– Corporations are not persons and have no inherent inalienable human rights under the Constitution.
– Money is not speech. Money is concentrated capital and it cannot speak.
If you agree with these, become involved.
2. Sign the national petition to abolish corporate rights online at http://movetoamend.org/ More than 106,000 people have already done so.
3. Download and circulate the Move to Amend petition to your friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. The petition is at http://movetoamend.org/petition
4. Organize a meeting in your home and/or community on abolishing corporate constitutional rights. Circulate resources from the aforementioned websites. Invite a speaker. Organize to pass a city council resolution or citizen ballot initiative.
5. Get organizations you are connected with to endorse Move to Amend.
6. Become connected to Move to Amend Ohio. Join our monthly conference calls. Get active.
The solution to maintaining a healthy psyche as well as being political relevant and prophetic is developing a balance between reacting and responding to pressing problems that cry out for immediate attention and creating and initiating alternatives that address root causes.
This is a long haul struggle transcending current state or federal political administrations or is can be fixed by changing a few faces or a political party.
Nothing short of a social movement is required. It’s happened in other times, in other places and on other concerns as daunting as this one.
It’s now our turn.
It’s now our time.