Posts Tagged ‘#J21’

THIS is what democracy looks like. And more specifically, what American patriots throughout the nation, determined to renew our democracy and reclaim it from the auction block, look like.

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Marking the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate spending in our elections, the rapidly growing movement to fight back with a 28th Amendment to the Constitution has seriously stepped out into the national spotlight.

Thousands of Americans, in nearly every state turned out for over 350 events to “celebrate” the anniversary of the Court’s disastrous ruling and the resulting unprecedented leverage of corporate power over politicians. And from courthouse steps to corporate offices, from mock arrests and funerals to rousing rallies to teach-ins and simple one-on-one engagement with neighbors, the (cold) air was thick with the spirit of people-powered democracy that they’d prefer to raise up instead.

Indeed, this wasn’t just another series of protests and demonstrations, but a chance to turn Citizens United into a mechanism that unites citizens. Last weekend was a movement-building moment; an initial “coming out” for the 60-plus organizations, and countless citizens, united by the common purpose of ensuring that democracy is for We the People, not corporations and concentrated wealth.

Occupying Corporate Offices, Downtowns, and State Capitols

On Saturday, thousands of people joined Public Citizen and our allies to Occupy the Corporations, often demonstrating and engaging in creative actions at Bank of America branches and offices, Chevron gas stations and other corporate outposts in our communities. They ranged from local activists braving snow by the dozens to rouse and educate their community in places like Joliet, Illinois and Prince William, Virginia; to activists with the Rainforest Action Network and Occupy groups who “arrested” Cargill at its Minneapolis headquarters and conducted manhunts for a “person” going by the name of Bank of America in Charlotte and San Francisco; and to the  hundreds who joined Congressman Jim McDermott to rally and march through downtown Seattle in the slippery aftermath of an ice storm.

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Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate spending in our elections, the fast-growing movement to fight back with a 28th Amendment to the Constitution is taking shape. With a “Super PAC” frenzy inundating the 2012 presidential campaign, feeding the public’s widespread revulsion at what the Court has wrought, the time to act is upon us. Public Citizen’s Robert Weissman in the Washington Post:

Activists join Maryland legislators and U.S. Representatives, as well as Public Citizen's Mark Hays and other allies, to call for a constitutional amendment at the State House in Annapolis.

“We’re already at a point where the public overwhelmingly opposes the decision ,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a watchdog group helping to spearhead the efforts. “The goal is to build a grass-roots movement that will eventually be able to shape the debate.”

Public Citizen’s Democracy is For People campaign, as a founding member of the United for the People coalition, is proud to be in the thick of this amazing “movement moment.”

Building on more than 50 cities and towns that have passed resolutions demanding a constitutional amendment that overturns Citizens United and stems the influence of money over elected officials, Public Citizen and our allies have been organizing in four different states vying to have their legislatures follow suit (and in the process declare that they’re ready to ratify an amendment). Rallies supporting those resolutions were held in Massachusetts and Maryland over the last 2 days (with Congressmen Chris Van Hollen and John Sarbanes attending in Maryland). Vermont and California will follow suit tomorrow and Saturday.

And to mark Saturday’s anniversary itself, activists around the nation will “Occupy the Corporations,” and expose the corporate imposters posing as ‘people’ with the constitutional right to buy unprecedented influence over elected officials and public policy. We’ll be focusing on some of the mega-corporations most empowered by Citizens United and most responsible for greedy, disastrously short-sighted policies, to the detriment of the rest of us.

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This post was authored by Mark Hays, the Campaign Coordinator for Public Citizen’s Democracy is for People campaign. Follow the campaign on Twitter @RuleByUs for the latest on the money and politics and the campaign for a constitutional amendment!

This has been a huge week for the Democracy is for People Campaign’s  movement-building efforts on behalf of a constitutional amendment overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s atrocious 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. And the coming weeks will only be even more momentous, as this growing popular backlash builds into a full-blown national movement!

Yesterday, the New York City Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution asking Congress to pass an amendment overturning the Citizens United decision. The resolution was introduced by Council Progressive Caucus Members Steve Levin, Brad Lander, and Melissa Mark-Viverito, and backed by Speaker Christine Quinn.

Author and Public Citizen member Daniela Gioseffi was one of the lead activists approaching the Councilmembers about proposing the resolution. Our Senior Organizer, Jonah Minkoff-Zern, joined representatives from Occupy Wall Street (which formally endorsed efforts to rein in corporate constitutional rights and political spending the night before the City Council Vote!) and Move to Amend at the Council vote.

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This December, the public’s approval of Congress hit rock bottom. According to a Gallup poll, only 11 percent of American citizens approve of the job Congress is doing. Today, The Washington Post reported that while the median net worth "Public Citizen Lady Liberty"of an American family has declined “from $20,600 to $20,500 between 1984 to 2009, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan,” the net worth of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives has jumped from $280,000 to $725,000 (and that’s excluding home equity).

As Public Citizen’s Craig Holman has been saying for years and recently talked about on Marketplace, it pays to be a member of Congress, literally. The Washington Post notes that, “Members of Congress have long been wealthier than average Americans, and in recent decades the wealth of the wealthiest Americans has outpaced that of the average.” Take CEO pay in America for example. Everyone knows the gap between executives and the average worker is growing.

And, as our research for a series of financial policy reports documents, Wall Street executives are dead-set on derailing the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, particularly the section that calls for CEO pay to be listed as a ratio of the average worker’s salary of their company. So what does $15.6 million in federal political contributions and the work of 712 financial industry lobbyists get you? Turns out, not much yet, which is exactly what officials at Goldman Sachs and J.P.Morgan want. More than a year after its passage, the majority of provisions of Dodd-Frank have yet to be implemented.

Regardless of any new regulations coming down the pike, we have a government full of officials who are far removed from the economic realities that their constituents face. Part of the problem is that it doesn’t help that the barriers to entry for political candidates become higher each year. The Post reports: “Since 1976, the average amount spent by winning House candidates quadrupled in inflation-adjusted dollars, to $1.4 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.”

Who better to afford the financial chore running for office has become than people who already have significant amounts of money? It’s a heck of a lot easier to come up with $1.4 million when you have money you can funnel into your own campaign and/or rich friends ready to work with political bundlers.

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