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Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 03:32 pm

‘We the People,’ not ‘We the Corporations’

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A year from now, Americans will be caught in an unprecedented blizzard of presidential campaign ads. We’ll be blinded by the whiteout and buried in the storm’s negativity.

For the first time ever, most of this ad blizzard will not come from the candidates, but from ads secretly funded by huge corporations. This is because a five-man cabal on the Supreme Court issued an edict last year that perverts nature itself. In a case titled Citizens United, the five decreed that – shazam! – lifeless corporate entities are henceforth “persons” with more electioneering rights than ... well, us real-life persons.

In a black-robed coup against our democracy, the Supremes ruled that a corporation’s money is “speech” and that CEOs may dump unlimited sums of it into their own ad campaigns to elect or defeat any candidates they choose.

Of course, Wal-Mart, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil and the rest are nothing but legalistic constructs – really just pieces of paper issued by state governments. It’s a grotesque, Kafkaesque lie to say they are equal to – much less superior to – human beings. As a friend of mine puts it, “A corporation is not a person until Texas executes one!”

The good news is that real citizens of our country are united against Citizens United. In a January Hart Research poll, 87 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of independents and even 68 percent of Republicans favor passing a constitutional amendment to overrule the court’s bizarre decision and make clear that only people are people.

Sadly (thought not surprisingly), our national elected officials – including Republicans, Democrats and tea partiers – are too hooked on corporate money to stand up for us ... for America’s democracy. So, do we just have to surrender to the corporados? Of course not – we’re Americans!

Rebel! A new “We the People Campaign” is rallying grass-roots folks to sign a “Declaration of Independence from Corporate Power.” To sign the declaration and join the action, go to www.WeThePeopleCampaign.org.

In response to the Supreme Court’s freakish decision to bestow political “personhood” on corporations, I got an email from a guy named Larry, screaming that “big money has plucked our eagle!”

Yes, it has – and the Powers that Be want us to believe there’s nothing we can really do about it. Rather than actually trying to undo this theft of our people’s democratic authority, they tell us to be satisfied with a few tangential regulations, like maybe requiring corporations to disclose how much they’re spending on campaigns. Now there’s a weak stand for democracy: “Give us campaign finance reporting regulations, or give us death!”

Come on, we’re bigger than that. Here are just a few actions for real change that ordinary Americans can take, teaming up with others right where you live:

AMEND. Two major coalitions are organizing coast to coast to overturn the court’s corporate money edict. One is FreeSpeechForPeople.org, and the other is MoveToAmend.org – and both have action kits for raising the issue locally, petitions to be circulated, video and other good graphics to educate people in your community, and a wealth of other organizing ideas.

LOCALIZE. Pass your own local and state laws to stop the wholesale corporate purchase of our government. These include outlawing any corporate claim of personhood in your area, providing the alternative of public financing for your local and state elections, and banning campaign donations by corporations that try to get government contracts and subsidies. For information and help, check out PublicCampaign.org and ReclaimDemocracy.org.

CONFRONT. Yes, get in the face of power. Go see candidates to ask where they stand on corporate personhood, and demand that top executives of big corporations located in your area publicly agree not to spend corporate cash on your elections. You can get more info at www.democracyisforpeople.org.

Remember, the Constitution plainly says “We the People,” not “We the Corporations.”  

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist and author.

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