It all started (or ended, depending on your point of view) on January 21, 2010, when the Supreme Court ruled 5 - 4 along the ideological fault line to declare corporate and union campaign spending a form of protected speech.
The decision - Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, 558 U.S. 50 (2010), known colloquially as "Citizens United" - was a catastrophic blow to democracy in the United States. It opened the floodgates for corporate money , and since the ruling, a tidal wave of private funds have swept through American elections, replacing citizens' voices and interests with an even more thoroughly corrupted bought-and-paid-for corporatocracy than previously existed. NPR reported on the 2010 elections:
After the astronomical sums of cash thrown into the 2008 campaign, everyone's pumping in even more - about 10 to 15 percent more - according to Kip Cassino, vice president of research at the media analysis firm Borrell Associates...
Fueling [the increase], he says, is corporate money - dollars liberated by the Supreme Court when it ruled that corporations and unions can be unrestrained in their campaign spending.
Cassino says that corporate funds probably accounted for a 10 percent jump in advertising.
And of course, those advertisements are almost always negative.
|Image courtesy of Forbes|
While Citizens United was a disastrous ruling and has set elections in the U.S. back years, the fight is not over - in fact, a grass-roots movement to eliminate the controversial and preposterous idea of "corporate personhood" is in full swing.
Salt Lake City Move to Amend , the local chapter of the national Move to Amend effort, has not had an easy go of it. An early signature drive to put a ballot measure stripping corporations of their imaginary personhood to a vote in Salt Lake City was harpooned by the city recorder's office. KCPW reports :
Organizers of the anti-corporate personhood Move to Amend initiative have taken their quest to get on the ballot in Salt Lake City this year to the Utah Supreme Court. Despite having more than enough signatures, the city recorder's office rejected the initiative, because state law doesn't allow for local initiatives that don't create actual legislation to appear on the ballot.On Thursday, July 26, the Utah Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the initiative. Move to Amend's Salt Lake City website reports :
Move to Amend Salt Lake began gathering over 11,000 signatures from Salt Lake City voters in February 2012 with the intention of placing the initiative on the 2012 ballot. Those signatures were validated and proved to be legally sufficient, but Salt Lake City, citing state law and Supreme Court precedent, rejected the resolution.
The Salt Lake City Council and Mayor's office, the ostensible opponents at [Thursday's] Supreme Court hearing, actually support Move to Amend's goals. In solidarity with the Move to Amend push for more direct democracy, the council is considering new ordinances that would enable citizen-led ballot resolutions on municipal-election ballots.Salt Lake City Move to Amend has incarnated itself in delightfully entertaining fashion throughout the SLC area in the form of the Bread and Circus Theater, which I have written about :
The Bread and Circus Theater is easy to spot as they roll up in their hand-crafted, brightly painted caravan wagon. Their street theater performances - with accompanying accordion! - lampoon the role of money in politics and include a song that explains that actual people "laugh when we're tickled / get cold when we die," and that as regards corporate personhood, "if you don't have a heart / you don't qualify." Good stuff.
Tonight, the Salt Lake City Council is meeting tonight at 7 PM MST in room 315 of the City-County Building, 451 South State Street to take routine public comments. A contingent of Salt Lake City Move to Amend folks will be there to make their voices heard - if you support direct democracy over corporate oligarchy, by all means, join in.
MTA is also holding a People's Movement Assembly (and if that doesn't sound like good clean fun, I don't know what does) tomorrow, August 1st, at 5:30 in the Tanner Atrium at Westminster College. The Facebook page for that event can be found here if you would like to RSVP.
The SLCMTA Twitter feed is here . Main Move to Amend Twitter feed here . An excellent editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune in support of the Move to Amend ballot initiative can be found here . The main web page for the group is here .
Godspeed, SLC Move to Amend, you oddball champions of real democracy!