This past Thursday (April 19, 2012), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference -- an event that rarely rates more than a line or two in either the New York or Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, or even the San Francisco Chronicle. At one point during the press session -- which focused mainly on taxes, the so-called "Buffett Rule," and the Secret Service scandal in Columbia -- The former House Speaker made reference to Senate Bill 2219, the DISCLOSE Act. This act, introduced by Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in the senate and Representative Chris Van Hollen in the House would " . . . amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to provide for additional disclosure requirements for corporations, labor organizations, Super PACs and other entities." In speaking of the Whitehouse/Van Hollen proposal (which has 40 cosponsors in the Senate and more than 100 in the House), the former Speaker said:
On another subject, but related, yesterday House Administration Democrats held a forum on the need to create a new politics free of special interest money. I call it a forum because we were not allowed to call it a hearing because the Republicans will not allow a hearing on DISCLOSE. They did not allow the camera system of the room to be used to transmit the proceedings from the forum to the rest of the world. We think that this is about transparency, DISCLOSE. Stand by your ads. If you are so proud of what you are doing with your effective political action, then let the world know who is paying for this ad; not by the end of the year, or the end of the month, but by the end of the ad, in real time. We have to do it as candidates. They should have to do it as contributors.
We have a clear agenda in this regard. DISCLOSE, reform the system, reducing the role of money in campaigns, and amend the Constitution to rid it of this ability for special interests to let secret, unlimited huge amounts of money flow into campaigns. I think one of the presenters yesterday said it was – that the Supreme Court had unleashed a predator that was oozing slime into the political system, and that indeed is not an exaggeration. Our founders had an idea. It was called democracy. [They] said the elections are determined by the people, the voice, and the vote of the people, not by the bankrolls of the privileged few. The Supreme Court decision flies in the face of our founders' vision, and we want to reverse it.
As noted above, Pelosi's comments went unreported by the nation's major media outlets. Nonetheless, her 280-word comment was picked up by chatterboxes at Fox, who then proceeded to dice, slice and skewer. So far as they -- and virtually all of their colleagues in the conservative media -- were concerned, Pelosi's support of the DISCLOSE Act was and is nothing short of a declaration of war on both the First Amendment and the United States of America. "How dare Nancy Pelosi stand there and blatantly admit that she and her fellow Democrats are going to amend Constitution in order to overturn a Supreme Court decision?" the likes of Sean Hannaty, Dana Perino and Bob Beckel asked in mock abhorrence -- as if they haven't at one time or another pushed for overturning of the 14th, 16th and 17th Amendments to the Constitution. (These amendments, in order, guaranteed "Due Process," gave Congress the legal right to collect income taxes and permitted the direct election of U.S. Senators.)
Call it an act of collective, selective amnesia. When the right seeks to repeal the entire 20th century, it is an act of sheer patriotism -- a strengthening of liberty's beneficent embrace. When Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues call for the repeal Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission it is a sure sign that the sky is falling and a reborn Soviet Union is on the brink of swallowing America whole.
Truth to tell, the SCOTUS Citizens United decision -- which declared that corporations, like people are guaranteed the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" -- has made it likely that America will one day be swallowed whole . . . but not by Communists, by Corporatists. As a result of Citizens United, the wealthiest Americans can dump hundreds of millions of anonymous dollars into committees that will then back those office holders or candidates who will do their bidding -- regardless of how reckless or retrogressive their wishes may be. (See my October 29, 2010 article "Worse Than Dred Scott," which was published a few days after the Supreme Court's decision.)
As a result of Citizens United, the will of the people has been replaced by "Gold's Law" -- namely, "He (or she) that's got the gold will make the law."
Don't believe that the will of the people is being buried? A bit of anecdotal evidence:
- According to an ABCNEWS/Washington Post Poll, 57% of the American public say abortion should be legal "in all or most cases," and 54% continue to support the court's 1973 Roe v Wade decision. And yet, legislatures in nearly every state have enacted draconian anti-abortion measures up to ans including a recently passed Arizona law which states that life begins two weeks BEFORE CONCEPTION.
- The Gallup Poll reports that for the first time in its tracking of the issue, a majority of Americans (53%) believe ". . . same-sex marriage should be recognized as valid with the same rights as traditional marriages." And yet, both Congress and a majority of state legislatures are pushing for a "Defense of Marriage Act," which would declare that marriage is only between one man and one woman.
- According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, a whopping 65% of those polled are in favor of an overhaul of the U.S. health care system. Of that 65%, nearly one-in-four did not believe that so-called "Obama Care" went far enough. And yet, everywhere one looks or listens, there are demands for a repeal of the president's "socialist" program.
- A recent CBS/New York Times poll reveals that 56% say they oppose cutting the pay or benefits of (largely unionized) public employees to reduce state budget deficits, and 60% percent oppose eliminating some collective bargaining rights for public employee unions, while just one in three Americans supports that idea. Despite this, several state legislatures have voted to curb union rights, claiming that in large measure, the nation's economic doldrums are caused by unions.
- A poll conducted by Hart Research Associates found that nearly 8 ouf ot every ten voters (79%) support passage of a Constitutional amendment to overturn the
Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case and make clear that corporations do not have the same rights as people. This figure includes 42% who would definitely support it. Just 21% are opposed. Large majorities of Democrats (87%), independents (82%), and Republicans (68%) support passage of the amendment.
And yet, there are those who are warning that the sky is falling.
Well, I'm here to tell you that the sky is not falling; rather, the horizon is rising. We are beginning to see the largely ignored majority band together and make their/our voices and desires heard. Just ask Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is spending nearly every waking hour trying to keep from being recalled. Just ask the folks of ALEC (see my July 30, 2011 article) who are underwriting so many of these issues; within the past two weeks, they have lost the financial backing of Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and MacDonalds. Lastly, ask state legislators in Hawaii, Vermont, New Mexico and shortly Montana, as well as members of city councils across the country, who have all passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
Finally, people are saying "Enough's enough! America is a nation built on the will of the people, not the wealth of the plutocrats." For those interested in adding their voice to the "Overturn Citizens United" campaign, check out Free Speech For People.
Let the Foxifiers warn that the sky is falling. It will keep them too busy to realize that for the rest of us, the horizon is rising . . .
©2012 Kurt F. Stone