OP-ED BY SELMA STERNLIEB – EMAIL 01/28/13
Hi Occupiers, I hope the Times Record will print this. Please get in touch with your town councilor and encourage him/her to vote for this resolution. I hope as many of you as can will plan to be at the town council meeting in Brunswick at 7 p.m. on February 4. Selma
TIME TO TAKE YOUR STAND !!
Over the past few months, braving the cold and the rain, a number of us have stood at the polls and the post office gathering over a thousand signatures on a petition asking the Brunswick town council to join a growing movement that urges Congress to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United.
The 2010 decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, gave rise to the Super PAC, which can raise and spend unlimited money from individuals, corporations, and nonprofit organizations to support or oppose candidates, as long as they do not coordinate directly with candidates or political parties.
Super PAC spending corrupts our political system, weakens political debate and marginalizes voters.
Instead of a democracy based on the concept, “of the people, by the people and for the people,” Super PACs allow a relatively few super-rich individuals and corporations to have a huge and inappropriate influence over elections, drowning out the voices of the electorate and often the candidates themselves, and pushing the issues of poor and middle class citizens to the sidelines. A few wealthy donors from a handful of states account for the majority of Super PAC donations. Super PACs translate economic success into political power, corrupting the “one person, one vote” principle upon which our electoral process is based. The political ads and automated “robocalls” purchased by Super PACs reduce the political debate to a horse race, whipped into a lather by negative attacks. The end result of these brutal campaigns is an electorate that is poorly informed at best and demoralized to the point of non-participation at worst, represented by politicians who must spend an inordinate amount of time fundraising and campaigning instead of doing the important work the people elected them to do, and who are then obligated to the special interests and big donors that fund their campaigns.
We need a federal constitutional amendment that allows us to regulate the raising and spending of campaign funds and to stop the unlimited flow of secret money into our democratic process.
Here is an example of how big oil money corrupts our democracy:
There is no mystery about how global warming works or how dangerous it is. The carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels is heating up the atmosphere and driving increasingly costly climate disruption. Once carbon pollution gets into the atmosphere it sticks there; there’s no cleaning it up, no going backward. The math has been done, and it turns out that we have about 15 years on the current burn path before we permanently load the atmosphere with so much carbon pollution we risk truly catastrophic changes.
Why isn’t the government doing something to halt the spread of carbon pollution? The answer is that it’s not stalling because it doesn’t know what to do; it’s not barreling along the business-as-usual path because it doesn’t have any viable alternatives; it’s not switching to clean energy because Americans don’t support it; it’s headed for the cliff, with its foot pressed on the accelerator, because fossil fuel interests still control the energy agenda in Washington D.C., preserving the status quo at our expense.
On Monday, February 4th the Brunswick town council is scheduled to consider the issue. Our councilors need to hear from the citizens of Brunswick. Please call your town councilor and tell him/her that you want the town of Brunswick to join some two dozen other towns in Maine that have passed similar resolutions. And please plan to attend the town council meeting to support the resolution. Meetings start at 7 p.m.
The petition reads:
“We believe that corporations should not share the same rights as people, that unlimited and unreported corporate donations meant to sway the electoral process should not be considered freedom of speech, and that the government should regulate the raising and spending of money by corporations intended to influence elections.
We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our town councilors to act now to pass a resolution encouraging Congress to revoke corporate personhood and overturn the Citizens United decision.”