LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Democracy in serious danger


I'd like to add my thoughts to two excellent earlier letters concerning the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. FEC and the matter of "corporate personhood."

The effect of Citizens United and the rise of "super pacs" has taken a wrecking ball to democracy in the United States by opening the floodgates of money in corporate and union treasuries to fund elections. It's a danger people from the right, left and center should agree upon.

Simply put, corporations (and unions, though they have far less money) can spend without stint or limit from their treasuries to support particular candidates with political advertising, as long as they don't give money directly to the candidate.

Think what happened in our state with the initiatives on liquor sales outside of state run stores. In 2010 it failed. The next year Costco spent $22 million and the initiative passed. Corporate money to state referendums is legal.

An easy way to understand the seriousness of the Citizens United decision and its consequences is to go to www.storyofstuff.org and watch the movie about it. Don't be put off because it's partly in cartoon format. It makes the main points crystal clear.

As it has been pointed out, corporations do not have navels or consciences. They are useful legal constructs to increase commerce, but they are not people.

Corporations live and die by "the bottom line." They don't, and no one imagines they should, put the general welfare of the nation foremost in their minds. Why then should they be allowed to buy up a majority of the air time to insure the election of "corporate friendly" legislators?

Part of the argument concerns the Supreme Court decision Buckley vs. Valeo (1976) in which spending money on elections was declared to be a constitutionally protected form of free speech.

This ruling became very dangerous when it was married to Citizens United and "corporate personhood." Even if you bought into "personhood," the obvious danger to democracy caused by unlimited political corporate "speech" is such that strict limits are needed. As things stand, your political voice is sadly diminished.

The remedy is an amendment to the Constitution. Please go to movetoamend.org and sign the petition.

The 26th Amendment (allowing 18 year olds to vote) was ratified in just four months in 1971. Now we have the Internet. We can do this.

Norm Osterman

Walla Walla


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