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People power vs. corporate power

ECP banner 9-9-09

We’re continuing to hear compelling stories from grassroots activists across the nation who pledge to protest on www.DontGetRolled.org and took action. An activist, Sandy in Oakland, California, hung the banner above that reads “Eliminate Corporate Personhood” over the highway (the same activist is also affiliated with the Facebook group One Million Strong for the Separation of Corporation and State).  

Another activist, James, traveled from New Hampshire to protest with petitions and flyers in Burlington, Vermont. Here’s his inspiring story of citizen action:

I walked up and down Church Street — the main commercial avenue in Burlington, Vermont.  There was a street festival so a lot of people were out. I held a sign that said “Separation of Corporation and State” on one side and “Corporations Are Not People” on the other.  This attracted a lot of attention, and most people seemed to like it.  Even a security guard complimented it!


After the sign got someone’s attention, I told them about the initiative and petition.  I gave Don’t Get Rolled handouts from the Public Citizen website to those people who didn’t feel comfortable signing the petition.


A small handful of people were already aware of the Supreme Court hearing, most were not.  Many people had health care on their mind given the current debate and the presidential address that took place that night.  This was a nice segue, since corporations seem to dominate that particular issue as well, and I discussed the role of pharmaceutical and health insurance companies in health care reform with several people.


I met about two hundred people.  Most were from Vermont, others from various other east coast states like New Hampshire or New York.  Ages ranged from late teens to elderly.  Political orientation actually ranged quite a bit from very liberal to very conservative.  This was surprising to me, as I figured most people in Vermont would be very liberal.  Some were actually very conservative or libertarians.  I even met a self-proclaimed fascist.  A lot of people did not affliate themselves with either the Democratic or Republican Party–and a lot of them, probably most, were quite upset with both parties. 


I can honesetly say that not one single person disagreed with the cause, though not everybody would sign the petition.  The most common reason people didn’t sign was they didn’t think it was worth it — they said the battle was already over, that regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, corporations already ran the government and there was nothing we could do.  More than one person felt that the situation was so dire, that our country would dissolve within our lifetime.  To such citizens, I said something like “Yes, things are bad, but they could get a whole lot worse…” and this seemed to motivate some of them.


Still — I’d say it was unanimous — nobody wanted corporate funding of our elections, and many people were really upset by this issue.  A lot of people expressed anger and frustration that corporate influence in politics was not being addressed — or even talked about — by our political leaders. Many of these people felt this way because, as they said, our politicians must be happy with the way things are and somehow part of the corporate scheme.  (I must say, given the uniformity of opinion on this decision — I myself wonder why more politicians don’t take up this cause!)


Most people thanked me for the work I was doing. 


It was a very rewarding and interesting experience.  Thanks to Public Citizen for the work you do and for helping us organize.

Thank you for sharing, James! We need to keep spreading the word so that the public is aware of the possible surge in corporate influence in politics. Pledge to protest on decision day at www.DontGetRolled.org.