Newsflash:
Issues End Mass Criminalization End Corporate Rule Bernie Sanders Raises Battle Cry Against Citizens United: "I Vote for Democracy!"
Sunday, 13 April 2014 04:24

Bernie Sanders Raises Battle Cry Against Citizens United: "I Vote for Democracy!"

Written by  John Nichols | The Nation
Senator Bernie Sanders Senator Bernie Sanders AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Citizens United is not just the default reference for US Supreme Court decisions—including the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling—that have ushered in a new era of corporate dominance of American elections. It’s the name of the conservative group that encouraged Chief Justice John Roberts and the most activist Court majority in American history to tear the heart out of what were already weak campaign finance laws.

Citizens United still exists as an activist group that produces documentariesACLU: At War with America, Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration, Fire From the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman, America at Risk: Hosted by Newt and Callista Gingrich—and organizes gatherings that highlight right-wing policies and politicians. On Saturday, Citizens United hosted something of a kickoff for the Republican presidential race in the first-primary state of New Hampshire.

Organized in collaboration with the Koch brothers–funded Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Citizens United’s “Freedom Summit” attracted a list of confirmed speakers that included many of the leading contenders for the GOP nod. Indeed, Greg Moore, the director of AFP-New Hampshire, described the summit as the first “cattle call” of 2016.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul was on the speaker list.

So was Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

And former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

And perennial (if never quite announced) contender Donald Trump.

The Freedom Summit was not entertaining objections to the latest Supreme Court decision to steer more big money into politics—in the case of McCutcheon v. FEC—or to the political machinations of bottom-line corporations and self-serving "mega-donors."

But across town, on the same day, the objection was raised.

The New Hampshire Institute of Politics on the campus of Saint Anselm College was packed Saturday for a town hall meeting with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who roused the crowd with a condemnation of the money power that is corrupting American elections and governance.

"In the United States of America, billionaires should not be able to buy elections," declared Sanders, to thunderous applause.

If we do not get our act together, we are moving towards an oligarchic society," he continued, arguing that, "We have got to fight to defend American democracy."

Like some of the Republicans who will be in New Hampshire this weekend, Sanders has talked about running for president. And his visit to the first-primary state has stirred speculation about a possible bid.

The independent senator says he is months away from any kind of decision. What he's doing now is inviting progressives to join in a conversation about how to take on the money power. It's a conversation he'll carry forward May 9 and May 10 in Northampton, Massachusetts, with a series of events, including an appearance with the activist group Progressive Democrats of America. 

What Sanders has already made his decision about the absolute absurdity of the high court’s approach to cases like Citizens United and McCutcheon.

“What world are the five conservative Supreme Court justices living in?” Sanders said after the McCutcheon ruling. “To equate the ability of billionaires to buy elections with ‘freedom of speech’ is totally absurd. The Supreme Court is paving the way toward an oligarchic form of society in which a handful of billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson will control our political process.”

Sanders has also decided that a constitutional amendment is needed to push back against Supreme Court decisions that threaten to make the dollar more consequential than the vote in American elections.

The “Democracy is for the People” amendment, sponsored by Sanders and Congressman Ted Deutch, D-Florida, is one of several proposed by members of Congress in response to the national outcry over the Citizens United decision—an outcry that, so far, has seen sixteen states and close to 600 communities demand that the Constitution be amended to address the crisis created, and now compounded, by the court.

It reads:

Section I. Whereas the right to vote in public elections belongs only to natural persons as citizens of the United States, so shall the ability to make contributions and expenditures to influence the outcomes of public elections belong only to natural persons in accordance with this Article.

Section II. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to restrict the power of Congress and the States to protect the integrity and fairness of the electoral process, limit the corrupting influence of private wealth in public elections, and guarantee the dependence of elected officials on the people alone by taking actions which may include the establishment of systems of public financing for elections, the imposition of requirements to ensure the disclosure of contributions and expenditures made to influence the outcome of a public election by candidates, individuals, and associations of individuals, and the imposition of content neutral limitations on all such contributions and expenditures.

Section III. Nothing in this Article shall be construed to alter the freedom of the press.

Section IV. Congress and the States shall have the power to enforce this Article through appropriate legislation.

Sanders is blunt with regard to the crisis.

“The disastrous 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United threw out campaign funding laws that limited what wealthy individuals and corporations could spend on elections,” he has argued. “Since that ruling, campaign spending by Adelson, the Koch brothers and a handful of other billionaire families has fundamentally undermined American democracy. If present trends continue, elections will not be decided by one-person, one-vote, but by a small number of very wealthy families who spend huge amounts of money supporting right-wing candidates who protect their interests.”

And Sanders is blunt about the necessary response.

“Clearly, if we are to retain the fundamentals of American democracy, we need to overturn the Supreme Court decision,” explains the senator, who argues that the time has come for “overturning Citizens United.”

It is part of what Sanders sees as a :political revolution" that has as its point the establishment of electoral landscape where the vote matters more than the dollar.

In New Hampshire Saturday, Sanders summed the concept up with a declaration that earned a standing ovation:

"I vote for democracy!"

Take Action: Tell Congress to Pass the ‘Democracy Is For People’ Amendment


Original article on The Nation

Read 7313 times Last modified on Sunday, 13 April 2014 04:58

End Mass Criminalization Articles

Brave New Foundation - For Profit Prisons

Brave New Foundation For Profit Prisons

Henry Rollins narrates the Prison Profiteers video series profiling the powerful institutions benefiting from locking up too many people for too long. See all the vids and take action here: http://prisonprofiteers.org #prisonprofiteers

Henry Rollins On Prison Profiteers. Better Watch It.


Henry Rollins On Prison Profiteers. Better Watch It.
The Get-Rich-Quick Plan That’s Actually Killing People
Could Anyone Possibly Think This Phone Company Isn’t Horrible?
Sometimes Cops Find Your Stolen Car. Sometimes Cops Stole It.

Should It Cost Less to Get Out of Jail If You’re Rich?
We’re Being Robbed But The People Doing It Will Never Go To Prison
Mistreating People + Lobbying = More Money
 

PDA In Your State

Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions

MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority

MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab

 

Find Your Elected Officials for Issues

Enter your zip+4 and find your elected officials. This link provides name, address and phone number

ButtonFindElectedOfficials

 

Like End Mass Criminalization on Facebook

Hand Deliver a Letter to your Senators or Representative

If your Senator(s) and/or Representative is not currently a supporter, they may not be aware that the legislation exists. Nothing sends a stronger message to a Congressional member than a personal visit to a district office by a voter with a written request for support. Phone calls and emails are incredibly important but nothing gets attention like a personal visit. Our Educate Congress page has information and a sample letter. Print the letter, sign it, deliver it.

Button-HandDeliver

School to Prison Pipeline

Abolish the SHU - CA Legislative Testimony

50 Years After I Have a Dream - We Have a New Dream Ending Mass Incarceration

Do You Think Mass Incarceration Matters? Depends Who You Are.

Dream Defenders Demand End to Racial Profiling, School to Prison Pipeline, End Stand Your Ground

Mother of CA Prisoner On Hunger Strike: The System Is Designed to Drive You Insane