Response to John Pudner

Just prior to my visit, the Concord Monitor published this opinion piece:

My Turn: N.H. Republicans want limits on political spending
By JOHN PUDNER
https://www.concordmonitor.com/Limiting-power-of-special-interests-25111255

I felt that Pudner did not accurately summarize the content of a majority of the municipal actions. Below is an unpublished submitted letter to the editor. Maybe it was because I was promoting the Concord program.

Oh well.

As a result, the mischaracterization will be believed as fact by those who read his piece. Omission (excluding facts) is just as harmful to the truth as commission (lying).

There is quite of bit of steering going on across the country to reframe town hall meeting actions, council resolutions and ballot initiatives that originally called for ending corporate personhood along with getting big money out of elections to ignore or downplay corporate personhood. Pudner’s piece, sadly, is just one example of this trend.

<><><>

To the Editor,

John Pudner presents a compelling case in his April 26 OpEd for the state legislature to pass a bill calling for a Constitutional Amendment to limit political spending and restricting political districts without partisan bias.

The problem is that his evidence at best cherry picks and at worst distorts historical reality.

While true that 82 New Hampshire municipalities have called in recent years for a constitutional amendment concerning political money in elections, it’s incorrect to portray at least a majority of those actions as exclusively addressing money in politics. By my count, 49 of the 82 municipal actions as summarized at http://united4thepeople.org/state-local/ declared that the very same constitutional amendment should also include that constitutional rights apply exclusively to people, not corporations, or similar wording to the effect that corporate constitutional rights (“corporate personhood” for short) should be abolished.

This includes the town of Bradford and several others referenced in Mr. Pudner’s opinion piece.

Many citizens of New Hampshire understand that the hijacking of our democracy/sovereignty transcends political elections to include the hijacking of Constitutional Amendments (including the 1st, 4th, 5th and 14th) and other provisions of our Constitution by corporate entities to overturn democratically enacted laws passed by municipalities and states over decades that protect people, places and the planet.

That’s why a once-generational Constitutional Amendment must address not only money in elections, but also corporate personhood.

I’ll present details of this proposal this Saturday, May 4 at 1 pm at Open Democracy, 4 Park St., in Concord.

Respectfully,

Greg Coleridge
Outreach Director, Move to Amend Coalition
http://MoveToAmend.org
(216) 255-2184 (cell – in Ohio)
(916) 318-8040 (office – in Sacramento, CA)

Advertisements

Radio interview

WTAM
May 19, 2019

First hour: Greg Coleridge and Sally Hanley of “Move to “Amend” a national organization- that seeks to put an amendment in front of congress.

WE THE PEOPLE VS. CORPORATE RULE: IT’S UP TO US!

Greg ColeridgeRights & Democracy (RAD) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) host a community forum with guest speaker Greg Coleridge, Outreach Director of the Move to Amend campaign.

https://wordpress.com/post/createrealdemocracy.wordpress.com/5265

“I’ll believe a corporation is a person when…”

texas

A New Year brings a new opportunity to add to this growing list. Feel free to offer your creative suggestions!
“I’ll believe a corporation is a person when…
… Texas executes one
… Arizona deports one
… Massachusetts marries two of them
… The US government issues one a Social Security number
… one gets a STD after jumping in bed with an elected representative
… one returns from the Mideast with PTSD
… the CIA extradites one to Guantanamo
… one sacrifices its life in military service
… one is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
… one is baptized
… one dies from hunger or sickness
… one falls in love
… one is awed by beauty
… one is humbled by things it does not know
… it is NOT too big to JAIL
… one values the life and well being of any one individual before it’s own existence
… The Ohio State University graduates one
… Ohio denies two same sex marriage (and divorce) rights
… one can’t find a job
… one is elected president or dies in childbirth.
… one is put in prison (which would most likely be for defrauding its investors)
… one dies and is buried in a cemetery
… it grows a heart
… it develops a conscience
… one stays up all night with a sick baby, a troubled teen, or a dying parent
… one worries about the meaning of life
… one is capable of empathy
… one has an ultrasound detected heartbeat
… when its conception occurs in utero
… one is actually held responsible for its actions
… one adopts any of those babies delivered from the women who were denied access to a legal abortion
…. they have to register for the draft
… when one gets pregnant, gives birth and breastfeeds the newborn.
… our budget is balanced
… the created is equal to the creator
… one gives up their personhood to save another person
… they pay their fair share of taxes
… disco music is finally eradicated from the face of the earth
… Lucy lets Charlie Brown kick the football
… a winter storm warning is posted for hell
… Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. return to Earth and declare corporations are people.
… one teaches a child
… they all start laughing out loud at these remarks
… it shows me its birth certificate
‎… it grows an opposable thumb.
… when gepetto makes it a real boy
… they are able to reproduce sexually
… one endorses Ron Paul for President.”
And finally…
“I will never believe a corporation is a person.”

Getting Money out of Politics and Beyond: A Call for a We the People Amendment

PiMasthead1

http://publici.ucimc.org/2018/12/getting-money-out-of-politics-and-beyond-a-call-for-a-we-the-people-amendment/

by Greg Coleridge

The midterm elections are over. Candidates have been elected and unelected. Ballot issues have been passed and rejected.

What hasn’t changed one iota, however, are the catastrophic harms to people, communities, the natural world and our republican form of self-government caused by the assertion of constitutional rights for corporations, and by political campaign money being defined as First Amendment-protected free speech.

Many believe these problems began with the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United v FEC decision. It’s true that Citizens United further opened the monetary floodgates onto political elections. The Court asserted that the First Amendment’s free speech clause prohibits government restrictions of  “independent expenditures” for political communications by for-profit corporations, nonprofit corporations, labor unions and other groups.

Since the Supreme Court had previously ruled that corporations were “persons” with free speech rights, corporate funds could now be raised in unlimited sums for “independent” communication (i.e. candidate advertisements by entities that are not coordinated with the candidate). A separate federal court decision based on Citizens United lifted the same legal restrictions on individuals.

The result has frequently been stomach-turning attack ads from across the ideological spectrum that distort the truth about candidates and issues. In addition, when money determines who has access to the podiums, microphones and loudspeakers in an arena, the voices of people and groups without money are relegated to the hallways, basements and back alleys.

The $200 million-plus spent on the Illinois governor’s race, much of it from the wealthy candidates themselves, typifies further movement away from a republican form of self-government and towards a plutocracy (i.e. rule of, by and for the wealthy). Corporate spending on election advertising in Illinois and elsewhere, much of it untraceable “dark money,” represents a second parallel threat—corptocracy (i.e. rule of, by and for corporations).

More than reversing Citizens United is needed to create fair and democratic elections and more than fair and democratic elections are needed to create a legitimate republican form of self-government in which We the People rule.

Our government is broken because the system is fixed—as in rigged to benefit the super-wealthy and corporations. The core problems are the constitutional “rights” anointed by the Supreme Court on corporations and on money spent in elections—both of which predate Citizens United.

Corporations weren’t intended by this nation’s founders to become the governing institution in our country and world. Corporations are creations of government, originally chartered one at a time by legislative acts, which listed specific legal protections and privileges to create useful goods and services, but not with inalienable constitutional rights. Corporate charters were democratic instruments. Corporations that violated their charter provisions regularly had those charters revoked by state legislatures or state courts. We the People were sovereign, corporate creations of the state were subordinate.

No corporation was immune, even the most powerful ones. A Republican state Attorney General sought to revoke Standard Oil Corporation’s charter in 1892 for disregarding its provisions.

The Ohio Supreme Court, in a 1900 ruling to dissolve a dairy company, stated: “The time has not yet arrived when the created is greater than the creator, and it still remains the duty of the courts to perform their office in the enforcement of the laws, no matter how ingenious the pretexts for their violation may be, nor the power of the violators in the commercial world.”

Corporations worked strategically to shift democratic control over to the corporate form in three ways: from the state to the federal level, from the legislative arena to regulatory agencies, and from the legislative arena to the courts. All three strategies sought to move corporate definition beyond the reach of the public and, thus, undermine our republican form of self-government.

The most effective approach was to shield corporate actions by the Supreme Court. Despite the Constitution not mentioning corporations and the Bill of Rights meant to solely apply to human beings, corporate attorneys argued that constitutional rights applied to their clients. Activist Supreme Courts agreed and concocted for over a century corporate constitutional rights out of thin air.

Corporate constitutional rights now include First Amendment free speech and religion, Fourth Amendment freedom from search and seizure, Fifth Amendment freedom from takings, Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection, and Commerce and Contracts Clause “rights.”

These never-intended rights have allowed corporations to hijack our republican form of self-government well beyond influencing elections through their “right” to make political donations. These include the rights:

  • to advertise dangerous products (i.e. cigarettes and fracking) over the objections of communities and to avoid labeling genetically modified foods;
  • to avoid subpoenas that would compel testimony about unlawful trade and price fixing, and the right to prevent citizens, communities and regulatory agencies from stopping pollution and other assaults on people or communities;
  • to receive compensation when regulations are established to protect homeowners or communities, including the right to be compensated for all possible future profits they may have made without such regulations;
  • to build chain stores and erect cell towers against the will of communities, oppose tax and other public policies favoring local businesses over multinational corporations and resist democratic efforts to prevent corporate mergers and revoke corporate charters through citizen initiatives; and
  • to ship toxic waste between states over the “health, safety, and welfare” objections of communities – claiming the waste isn’t actually “waste” but “commerce.”

Corporate constitutional rights are just one head of our anti-democratic hydra. The other is the constitutional protection of political money defined as free speech. This dates to the 1976 Buckley v Valeo decision. If money is political speech, as the Supreme Court stated, then those with the most money have the most speech. This is not an ingredient for anything approaching a republican form of self-government, more likely for a plutocracy.

No presidential decree, legislative statute or regulation can end corporate constitutional rights and money defined as free speech. The only solution is a constitutional amendment.

Move to Amend is a national non-partisan coalition of hundreds of organizations and over 450,000 individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests.

It calls for the We the People Amendment (H.J.R. 48) to the Constitution, declaring that inalienable rights belong to human beings only, not to mere legal entities, and that money is not a form of protected speech under the First Amendment and can be regulated in political campaigns. Sixty-five U.S. House Representatives have endorsed H.J.R. 48. It will soon be introduced in the U.S. Senate. More than 750 communities have passed either local or state resolutions or ballot measures calling for such an Amendment.

Building an authentically multicultural, intergenerational and transpartisan grassroots democracy movement is the only realistic route toward this end. This currently seems pie-in-the-sky. Yet we’re now facing profound political, economic, social and environmental crises. None of this is sustainable. Limits are rapidly being reached. What seems impossible at the moment can quickly become inevitable. Our visions have been repressed by our dominant culture about what is doable, realistic and inevitable – not to mention what is just, democratic and sustainable.

A Move to Amend-sponsored public program recently took place in Champaign-Urbana. There’s interest in exploring what can be done locally to join this growing national movement. If interested in joining this exploration, contact Doug Jones at djones42@gmail.com.

Greg Coleridge is Outreach Director at Move to Amend. He can be contacted at greg@movetoamend.org.