By Matthew Rothschild on January 21, 2012

I was asked to speak at an “Occupy the Courts” rally outside the federal courthouse in Madison, Wisconsin, yesterday. It was nine degrees out, and it was snowing, but about 85 people showed up to denounce the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

People held signs that said, “Supreme Court plus Supreme Corruption Equals Supreme Calamity” and “End Corporate Personhood.”

The Raging Grannies made fun of the decision in song after song.

Mike McCabe, the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, rightly said that it “effectively legalized bribery again” in our political system and that we need to “fight to recriminalize bribery.”

Wisconsin State Assemblywoman Chris Taylor said we need to amend not only the federal Constitution but our state constitution as well if we are to eliminate corporate control of our government.

Here is, by and large, what I said, as my teeth were chattering and my ears were freezing:

“Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court put a stake through the heart of democracy in America.

It ruled, amazingly, that we can’t regulate corporate expenditures in elections so long as they are “independent” of the candidates.

In doing so, it relied on two encrusted legal falsehoods:

First, that corporations = persons.

And second, that money = speech.

And it betrayed an appalling naivete about how our system works:

The 5-4 majority said—check this out—that “independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

And even if they did give rise to the appearance of corruption, the court asserted, without foundation, that “the appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.”

What planet were those justices on?

The American people are already losing faith in our democracy because of the influence of money in politics.

That’s why 80 percent opposed this ruling, including 76 percent of Republicans!

Since this ruling, we’re already seeing the enormous increase of money in politics with the so-called Super PACS.

The only way we have a prayer of democracy is if we overturn Citizens United. And there are just two ways to do that.

You can hope and pray for a different composition on the Court, a more liberal court, to do the job, but that’s no guarantee and it’s an impermanent fix.

Or we can fix it once and for all and pass a Constitutional Amendment that says, unequivocally,

that money is not speech,

that corporations are not persons, and

that corporations can’t spend money to elect this candidate or to trash that candidate.

Fortunately, the people are increasingly in favor of such an approach. Already, the two biggest cities in the United States, New York and LA, have gone on record in favor of such an amendment. Other cities, like our own Madison, Wisconsin, have also passed resolutions advocating this. As have Boulder, Colorado and Missoula, Montana.

And at the national level, Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill to amend the Constitution, as has Sen. Tom Udall, as well as Representative Donna Edwards and John Yarmuth in the House.

So today we occupy the courts.

Tomorrow we must occupy the Constitution.

And some day soon we slay the dragon of corporate personhood and establish, for ourselves and our posterity, a real democracy right here in America.”

For more information, please go to movetoamend.org.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Pundits Slight Ron Paul after Strong NH Showing."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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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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