The director of Free Speech for People weighs in on Citizens United, corporate personhood, and preserving the integrity of American democracy.
Image from Flickr via ragesoss
By David Barsamian with John Bonifaz
By arrangement with Alternative Radio.
Democracy, rule of the people, is in the ICU. The pulse of the system of governance, begun in Athens, is fading. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which declared that corporations are people and that money is free speech, may be the deathblow. But galvanized citizens are saying, “Wait a second.” The game is not over yet. Activists trying to reverse Citizens United were greatly encouraged by the December 30, 2011, Montana Supreme Court decision to uphold that state’s century-old ban on corporate money in elections. The Montana ruling said, “With the infusion of unlimited corporate money in support of or opposition to a targeted candidate, the average citizen candidate would be unable to compete against the corporate-sponsored candidate, and Montana citizens, who for over 100 years have made their modest election contributions meaningfully count would be effectively shut out of the process.”
John Bonifaz, recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, is a lawyer and activist. He is co-founder and director of Free Speech For People, a national nonpartisan campaign working to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and the corporate rights doctrine.
David Barsamian is the award-winning founder and director of Alternative Radio, the independent weekly audio series based in Boulder, Colorado. He is the author of numerous books with Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Eqbal Ahmad, Tariq Ali, Arundhati Roy and Edward Said. His latest books are Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism with Richard Wolff, How the World Works with Noam Chomsky and Targeting Iran. He is winner of the Media Education Award, the ACLU’s Upton Sinclair Award for independent journalism, and the Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. The Institute for Alternative Journalism named him one of its Top Ten Media Heroes.