Debilyn Molineaux is the Executive Director of Coffee Party USA. She is also co-founder of Changing the Game: Power, Politics & Particiapation, based in Portland, OR. Changing the Game works with political organizations to develop collaborative solutions for our community and national issues through their Change Design Lab.
Upon hearing that the Supreme Court decided 5-4 to overturn 100 years of campaign laws in Montana, I felt it in my stomach. Actually, I felt like I’d just been gut-punched. My visceral reaction is only one of many that we are experiencing today as Americans. While over 80%# of Americans disagree with the Citizens United ruling, currently only 5 people’s opinion matter on this subject. And they sit on the Supreme Court.
Ironically, the Citizens United ruling is about free speech, and liberally grants free speech to corporations. More precisely, this marks a time when we as a country have stretched the definition of corporate personhood beyond that of a legal entity, to that of a living entity. These corporations are of many stripes, including small businesses, unions, churches, advocacy groups, hobby clubs and others in addition to the multi-national corporations we commonly think of as “corporations.”
One point that no one seems to be making is that corporations were formed to be people organizing together as a group. Each of these individual people have the right of free speech, and now the entity has the right of free speech. In the arena of politics, this effectively doubles, triples or more the voice of every person who has enough money to buy more "free speech." If the media would provide "free advertising" to each entity or person who requested it, then we might actually have free speech in politics. Right now, it’s more of an auction atmosphere.
Additionally, not every person who organizes within a corporate entity is a citizen of the United States.This allows foreign investors, who likely have profit motives, rather than civic investment motives, "free speech" rights in our electoral process. They may not get to vote in the election itself, but their influence will be felt, none the less.
I call for a return to sanity. Return corporations to their form as a legal entity, not a living one. Corporations (all types) should be able to conduct business as a group of individuals, but not speak as a person. Let the people within the corporation act as advocates for their corporate interests, and the same for all other special interests. Only people with a heartbeat, who are citizens of this country should be allowed to contribute to candidate campaigns, in a limited fashion. This way, the auction of our government to the highest bidder ends.
And SuperPACs? They simply must go. I’m sick of the ads and we could end world hunger with the money.