Wednesday, January 13, 2010
We elect the actors but we don’t write the lines they speak
by Larry Geller
Voters stand to lose out if the Supreme Court treats political spending by businesses and other big-money players as protected speech.
Corporations are pitching a bizarre product -- a radical vision of the 1st Amendment. It would give corporations rather than voters a central role in our electoral process by treating corporate political spending as protected speech. If this vision becomes reality, businesses and other big-money players will spend billions either hyping their preferred candidates or running attack ads against elected officials who don't support their preferred agenda. Voters will be forced into a couch-potato role, mere viewers of the electoral spectacle bought and paid for by wealthy companies. [Los Angeles Times, Giving corporations an outsized voice in elections, 1/10/2010]
Reading this article prompts me to leak my President’s Letter from the soon-to-appear Kokua Council January Newsletter.
As the curtain rises on a new year and a new decade, America faces challenges that are more than economic. We the people, hoping for change in Washington, are learning that we’re still the audience rather than the playwrights. We may choose the actors, but we don’t write their lines or create the plot.
The current show is titled “Health Care Reform.” Its patrons are the wealthy health insurers and drug companies. It’s no surprise that they get to write a happy ending for themselves. We may applaud or we may boo, but the show will go on despite the many critical reviews.
Act I was the passage of the House version of the reform bill, which includes a public option. It had its dramatic moments–for example, the last-minute inclusion of an outrageously restrictive anti-abortion provision that reverses a generation of gains in women’s rights.
In Act II the scene shifted to the Senate, where the action was punctuated by arrests of audience members demanding that single-payer be put on the table. It never was, though a public option lurked behind the arras until stabbed by a knife-wielding Senator Lieberman.
Critics are left to squabble among themselves whether these bills should be passed because they are the best we can get, or should be defeated because they are far worse than what we have. If we were truly in control of our government, since the majority favor publicly-funded health care, we would have had it already. But politics is out of our hands. Our job as advocates in 2010, an election year, is to somehow reclaim our role and write the playbook ourselves.
Depending on what the Supreme Court decides, reclaiming our role in our own government may prove to be impossible.
Fundamentally, the shared discursive perspective that will allow "corporations to rule" is the mistaken belief that corporations are things as opposed to legal metaphors describing a complex matrix of legal relationships. Considering them as things misses the real process of decision making and volition in "corporate control" of political power which is highly undemocratic and typically irrational.
I have always thought that the voters should be able to recall those elected whose actions do not have the best interest of the people well being as primary. Starting with Obama!
Corporations are legal entities. When you think about it, so are individuals, in a sense. Voters must be non-felon citizens being a minimum of 18 years of age and registered to vote in a given county/state. Those characteristics define more of a legal entity than a "natural person".
So, any "legal entity" can now stand up and be heard.