Exhausted but inspired, I returned to D.C. from Netroots Nation grateful to have connected with some wonderful progressive bloggers and activists (and that I was not flying United). Now, the all-important question . . . what to do with all these buttons and QR codes? Kidding. The all important question in my mind is how do we achieve synergy within the movement?
One theme that came up again and again no matter what panel I was attending or person I was chatting with at Public Citizen’s booth or at a bar: Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission. That’s the U.S. Supreme Court decision that gave corporations First Amendment rights and in essence said “money is speech,”undoing a century’s worth of campaign finance jurisprudence and giving corporations the ability to give unlimited sums to sway elections, thus launching a new juggernaut of spending in American elections.
As the new media coordinator here at Public Citizen, I deal with a wide variety of issues. Whether I am getting up to speed on our government colluding with Big Pharma, blogging about frackaholics or tweeting the latest observations on Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform, one thing is clear: No matter our differences, we have to stand up to corporate power and reclaim our democracy.
In the panel entitled, “The Corporate Court,” Slate blogger Dahlia Litwick said: “The Supreme Court has been trimming, cutting and cramping the notion of who can have access to the courts.” Public Citizen witnessed this with AT&T v. Concepcion, the case in which the court said that companies could immunize themselves from class actions by inserting clauses in consumer contracts (those pages of fine print that you get when you buy a computer or download software). Lithwick also noted the Roberts court has been increasingly putting caps on damages and nipping discovery.
On the legislative side, I returned to D.C. to find out that last week the U.S. House of Representatives incorporated language into the defense authorization bill designed to block the president from issuing an executive order that would require companies vying for government contracts to disclose their political contributions. Yet, Americans from across the political spectrum disagree with the idea of pay-to-play politics and are incredibly frustrated by corporations having increasing sway over government while the public is in the dark about just how much money Big Business is funneling to their members of Congress.
When Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) spoke about the need to counter Citizens United at a Netroots panel last week, he made an important point that we cannot forget: “Folks the Constitution is with us on this one.” And it’s true. It’s also true that many within the Tea Party have as much disdain for corporate power as many on the left. We are the vast majority — the non-CEOs who don’t make millions in corporate bonuses a year. We may not be able to send a tidal wave of cash in Congress’ direction, but we do have our voices, and it’s time we start raising them—together.
Learn more about the fight to reclaim our democracy from the hands of multinational corporations.
Follow me on Twitter @citvox.