2011 May Have Been A Turning Point

Minute Man. Concord Mass.- December

2011 May Have Been A Turning Point

 Someday, 2011 may be seen as the turning-point year for the 28th Amendment to reverse Citizens United v. FEC.  There are real indications of a new, tough and rapidly growing American reform movement, one committed to non-partisan, or cross-partisan, renewal of our republican democracy that may surprise those who have not been paying attention.

In 2011, cities and towns across the country passed resolutions calling for the 28th Amendment to overturn Citizens United. These resolutions have passed by huge margins in everything from New England Town meetings to the city councils of major cities, including Los Angeles. Similar resolutions have been passed by national church associations and business  groups. Draft resolutions can be downloaded here or here. A great scorecard of resolutions can be found here.

Congress has noticed. At least ten Amendment resolutions with dozens of co-sponsors have been introduced in the House and Senate. Links to all of these can be found on the resources page here.

Nearly two million Americans have signed on to this movement. They are not going away, and they are organizing their friends.

2011 was a big year; 2012 will be bigger.

What’s ahead?

  •  The Supreme Court’s catastrophic naivete about corporate money in politics and elections, combined with its increasingly out-of-control corporatist activism, will come under  increasingly intense scrutiny and criticism as the second anniversary of the decision coincides with the 2012 election season. January will see an “occupy the courts” campaign and a National Day of Action.
  •  The growing number of cities and town resolutions calling for the 28th Amendment will build to a large wave, and will be joined by state-level resolutions.
  •  Assertions of “corporate speech” and other demands by large corporations to be exempt from public laws based on twisted readings of the Bill of Rights will be met with more resistance in litigation, and more skeptical scrutiny by judges [check out Montana’s Supreme Court taking the Citizens United majority to school]. And corrupting influences of corporate money will be exposed to more public accountability.
  • Debate in Congress and across the country will help bring consensus to the best language to restore the Constitution to people, not corporations, and to ensure that people, not money, controls our elections and representatives. The fact that  more than a dozen proposals are now in Congress reflects what might be called a good problem, and is not really a problem at all. A Constitutional amendment is a big deal, and a national debate about different approaches is only helpful to the country and the ultimate result.
  • Business leaders, recognizing that “corporate rights” is code for crony capitalism and an inefficient, stagnant, pay-to-play economy, will become increasingly vocal supporters of the People’s Rights Amendment and related reforms.

After many tough years for America, a lot of seeds of renewed hope were planted this past year. With a lot of work and increasing resources, 2012 could bring surprising progress.

About Jeff Clements

Jeff serves as President of American Promise. He has practiced law for three decades in public service and private practice, and is the author of Corporations Are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy From Big Money & Global Corporations. He is also the founder of Whaleback Partners LLC, which provides sustainable financing to businesses in the local agriculture economy. Previously, Jeff has been a partner in a major Boston law firm and served as Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the public law enforcement bureau in the Attorney General’s Office in Massachusetts. Jeff has helped to start and been a board member of many non-profit organizations and businesses. Today, in addition to the board of American Promise, he serves on the vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church in Concord, Massachusetts. Twitter: @ClementsJeff
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