Our legislators rarely agree on anything, but regular citizens are more sensible. We have bipartisan agreement that we are disgusted with Congress: only 1 in 10 Americans approve of Congress, a historic low as measured by the Gallup poll.
We also agree on why Congress is broken. An AP poll found that 85 percent of Americans believe corporate campaign contributions lead to corruption. More than 80 percent of both Democratic voters and of Republican voters want limits on corporate campaign contributions. (Remember that unions are themselves corporations.)
With this sort of consensus, why haven’t we been able to get the money out of politics? Because the Supreme Court declared almost all campaign-finance laws are unconstitutional violations of corporations’ rights to free speech.
The court ruled that corporations—not just the humans within them, but the non-human entities themselves—have the same rights as humans, including free speech. And they ruled that money is speech that cannot be limited by law. These decisions made it impossible for we, the people, to regulate corporate campaign donations.
Americans know that’s nonsense. When our forefathers wrote that we are “endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights,” they were talking about people, not about Sony or BP. No American legislature has ever passed laws saying that corporations have rights or that money is speech. No American voters have ever passed such a referendum. Those ideas were hatched inside the legal departments of the large corporations, taken to court, and granted there.
We cannot fix this by getting our legislators to pass laws for two reasons. First, their corporate donors don’t want them to put an end to this sort of legal bribery. Second, because new laws would just be thrown out by the courts the same way the old ones were. We need to amend the constitution.
The plan is this: Voters or elected representatives in states, counties, and municipalities across the nation are calling on their representatives in Congress to start the process of amending the constitution to make it clear that: 1) Only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights, and
2) Money is not constitutionally protected speech. The more communities go on record in support of an amendment, the harder it will be for our legislatures to ignore the obvious will of the people.
Localities are approving these resolutions faster than we can keep track, typically with 75 to 85 percent of the vote. The Town of Westport board, like many other local governing bodies, adopted it unanimously. So far, 16 states and over 550 communities and counties across the nation have called for this amendment.
Now, it’s time for the Village of Waunakee. A group of Waunakee residents will start going from door to door this weekend, asking their friends and neighbors to sign the petition requesting a referendum in support of the amendment be added to Waunakee’s April 2014 ballot.
Waunakee residents are invited to email their questions or offers of help to Waunakee Move To Amend at email@example.com.