Thursday, May 8, 2014
I Stand With Move to Amend
At the beginning of 2014, while recovering from yet another surgery on my spine, I concluded that I needed to be more assertive as a citizen in pushing back against what I consider to be the greatest threat to peace, prosperity and the natural world. The threat I'm talking about is the abject corruption of our political system. The corrupted U.S. Supreme Court has handed the super-rich and large corporations the ability to buy our elected officials and our political process, A series of court decisions, most recently Citizens United and McCutcheon vs. FEC, allows those with wealth to give unlimited amounts of campaign money to politicians. In effect, this legalized form of bribery gives these special interests the ability to shape public policy, putting their own interests over the public good.
Every issue; every challenge we face as a society is impacted by this egregious and, unfortunately, legal brand of political racketeering.
We know that the vast majority of the American public wants economic fairness, an expanding job market, a living wage for everyone. The vast majority wants equal rights and equal justice for women, for minorities, for all citizens, regardless of age, creed, gender or ethnicity. The polls show that most people want to protect our environment and the planet's biodiversity. It's clear that the biggest share of American voters are against the militarization of our law enforcement and the constant drumbeat for war and conflict with other nations.
The public wants to trust their print and broadcast media. They want it to report the news honestly, without bias, without hidden agenda. Instead, what we have - very nearly across the board - is a media that filters and shapes its news coverage to serve corporations and wealthy conservatives.
Probably the biggest issue facing all of humankind is global climate change. It's already happening. The science is undeniable. Without some seriously assertive action, the effects of atmospheric warming will swamp coastal cities around the world well before the end of this century. We're already experiencing a very unsettling increase in extreme weather events - floods, draughts, heat waves, tornadoes, hurricanes. Something like ninety-seven out of a hundred climate scientists around the world are all standing together, sounding the alarm. Climate change could kill millions, perhaps billions of humans, destroy our environment, and devastate civilized society for centuries to come.
What are we doing about it? Very little, it turns out, because those who benefit from our continued dependence on dirty, fossil fuel energy are using their wealth to maintain their continued profiteering from coal, oil, and gas. They sell a feckless kind of climate denial through their control of our public media. They pay off our elected officials to maintain their profits by obstructing public policy that encourages a transition to clean, renewable forms of energy.
It doesn't matter what constituency you count yourself a part of , the enemy of progress, of any kind of meaningful change, is the same. It's the small cabal of corporate leaders and super wealthy individuals who use massive amounts of money to resist change and thwart any idea that puts the common good over their private interests
Bottom line: no matter your cause, the real enemy of progress is our broken system of governance. Making it right requires that we do two things: reign in corporate power, and refute the influence of money on our politics. How do we do that?
Eliminating the sewer money and corruption from American politics will be no easy task, though it really isn't terribly complicated. When you examine all the facts, the answer is abundantly clear. The culprit is the U.S. Supreme Court. The foundation of virtually all the corruption of our political system is built on two morally bankrupt legal constructs, sanctioned by a corporate conservative majority on the court. The first bogus construct is the idea that money is equal to free speech. That's fine for those that have money. The problem is it disenfranchises the 99% of citizens who don't have big money to buy off politicians. The second corrosive legal construct is the idea that Corporations have the same rights as humans.
The current law of the land says a rich person's wealth is a form of free speech and that corporations can claim personhood to get away with all kinds of unethical or even illegal behavior. This must change.
The answer is pretty straight forward. We need to change our Constitution. We need a new, 28th Constitutional Amendment that says specifically and unequivocally that corporations are not people. They do not have the same rights as human citizens. Second, this 28th Amendment should say that money is not the same as free speech, and that just because you have big money doesn't mean you get to use it to pervert our political system.
Move to Amend is a national grassroots campaign that is focused on accomplishing one goal - a Constitutional amendment that says Corporations are not people and money is not speech. Every American who cares about our nation and our planetary future should be standing with Move to Amend.
My goal in becoming engaged with Move to Amend is to help build broad, well-informed citizen constituencies for the cause. This is a movement that crosses political boundaries. It's not Democratic, or Republican, or libertarian. Conservatives should embrace Move to Amend's Constitutional agenda as readily as liberals and progressives.
I am now working with David Delk, the leader of Move to Amend's chapter in Portland, Oregon. We are developing a series of short outreach videos that focus tightly on specific constituencies. The first three videos are currently in production. We will be releasing them on the internet. We hope they will inspire other filmmakers to do their own videos to expand the public's awareness and enthusiasm for Move to Amend.
Stay tuned. More on this in my next post.