By Contributor on January 21, 2012

By David A. Love

This month marks the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s horrendous decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission that has allowed corporations to pour unlimited money into elections. In this election season, democracy is paying the price.

On Jan. 21, 2010, in a 5-4 decision, the nation’s highest court ruled that the First Amendment was intended by the Founding Fathers to allow corporations to exercise free speech — limitless and without regulation.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said: “No sufficient governmental interest justified limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations … For these reasons, political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it, whether by design or inadvertence.”

Agreeing with Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts declared, “The First Amendment protects more than just the individual on a soapbox and the lonely pamphleteer.” He, like Kennedy, insisted that corporations should be treated like persons.

In his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens attacked the majority opinion that the First Amendment applies to corporations. “Corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their ‘personhood’ often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of ‘We the People’ by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.”

Sadly, Stevens did not prevail, and the majority decision has ushered in the age of the super political action committees, or super PACs — independent and shadowy political organizations that can flood unlimited campaign money into local races with television ads and influence the outcome. In the end, candidates for office lose control over their campaign when secret entities enter the fray with their big money.

Although this issue knows no political party or ideology, nine of the 10 largest super PACs are conservative. And to counter this, President Obama’s campaign plans to raise $1 billion in public contributions.

Meanwhile, television advertising for the 2012 presidential campaign is expected to exceed $3 billion.

In America, we’re supposed to have one person, one vote. But in reality, corporations have more than a single vote. They rig the system in their favor because they essentially buy elected officials.

Thankfully, people are fighting back against unlimited corporate influence in elections.

City councils in Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere have passed resolutions expressing disapproval of Citizens United, declaring that corporations do not have the same legal rights as natural persons, that money is not free speech and that campaign spending should be regulated.

There is also a move afoot to amend the Constitution to declare, once and for all, that corporations are not persons and are not entitled to spend money to alter the outcome of political races. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has already introduced such an amendment.

Ultimately, we must decide if we are a government for the people — or for the corporations.

David A. Love is a writer based in Philadelphia, the executive editor of BlackCommentator.com and a columnist for theGrio. His blog is davidalove.com. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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