Rich Whitney Responds to Supreme Court Case CITIZENS UNITED V. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION
January 27, 2010 in General
From the Whitney for Governor campaign:
Rich Whitney for Governor 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- January 24, 2010
Contact: Brandon Punke, Communications Director, 618-434-0046
RICH WHITNEY’S RESPONSE TO RULING IN CITIZENS UNITED V. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION
Carbondale, IL- Green Party candidate for Governor Rich Whitney issued the following statement Friday in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission:
In a transparently political decision, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its own recent precedent yesterday and paid tribute to the giant corporate interests that already wield tremendous power over our political process and political speech. Drawing upon a much older precedent – the legal fiction of corporate “personhood” that it created in 1886 – the Court determined that these contrived “rights” trump the public interest in having genuinely representative government. The limitations on corporate influence currently in place were already inadequate to prevent corporate and banking interests from dominating government at both the federal and state levels. These forces have already undermined the democratic process to the point where our government has become a plutocracy – rule by the wealthy – rather than something that could still be called a democratic republic. Increasingly, it has also become a “kleptocracy,” as these same interests have used their control over government to privatize public functions and raid the public treasury. Corporate and bank campaign contributions already direct the actions of the Democratic and Republican parties, their candidates and officeholders. An army of highly paid corporate-and-bank-sponsored lobbyists reinforce the message, peddling their influence through the power to give or take away campaign cash. As Will Rogers used to say, “We have the best politicians money can buy.” The American people recently witnessed a crystal clear example of how the system “works” – works to ensure that corporate interests are served, that is – in the recent fiasco known as health-care reform. On top of all that, five corporate conglomerates control the vast majority of what most Americans consume as “news.” But yesterday the Supreme Court declared that that wasn’t enough. Now it has reopened the floodgates for corporations to promote their policy agenda and their chosen candidates – and to trash any candidate that crosses them – with no holds barred. But with every problem comes an opportunity. In the face of this devastating threat to what remains of democratic process in our country, I, along with my fellow Green Party candidates, now present an even clearer choice to voters. We remain the Party that stands on principle, the Party that does not accept, and whose candidates do not accept, corporate money. We are the Party that is serious about establishing government of, by and for the people. Our commitment to this goal goes beyond our commitment to swearing off corporate money, however. We stand for a direct challenge to corporate domination of not only our political system, but our economic system. As the Illinois Green Party platform states: By definition, a “corporation” is a legal fiction – a business entity or organization that . . . has been given “rights” comparable to human beings, yet does not have the same legal responsibilities as human beings. . . . While originally subject to strict regulation under state charter, corporations over the years have eroded these social controls and now exert much more control over governments than governments exert control over them. Even in his day, Abraham Lincoln warned: I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country . . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. Letter to William Elkin, Nov. 21, 1864 But just as the corporation was a creation of human beings, acting through their government, human beings, acting through government, can rein in the power of corporations – or even abolish them if they so choose. And herein lies the answer to the challenge posed yesterday by the Supreme Court. The Court has spoken: Corporations have First Amendment rights, and for the time being, we the people are stuck with the consequences of that decision. But we the people always have the power to decide whether a corporation is chartered or licensed in the first place, and under what conditions. We also retain the power to decide which corporations are allowed to do business in our state, and under what conditions. Again quoting our platform, the Green Party not only favors “alternatives to the corporate model,” such as worker-owned enterprises and workers’ cooperatives. It also favors reinvigorating our corporate chartering laws, such that corporations will be permitted to operate “only if they minimize or eliminate their environmental harm, engage in no socially destructive behavior, pay a living wage to their employees, do not abandon communities that have benefitted them, and [meet] other publicly beneficial criteria.” To this we can add a new requirement: that corporations shall not be chartered, nor foreign corporations allowed to do business in Illinois, unless they agree not to engage in speech aimed at influencing its officeholders or candidates, or provide monetary support to any organization that aims to influence officeholders or candidates. The Supreme Court trumped the public interest by declaring that corporations have rights of free speech. But through the Green Party, the people can trump the Supreme Court, by declaring that no corporation has the right to exist in the first place unless it agrees not to use its First Amendment rights to influence elections and political decision-making. If elected Governor of Illinois, I will do everything in my power to completely bar corporate and banking influence over government.
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