Op-Ed

Stand against corporate influence in elections

Central KY Move to Amend declares, "Corporations are NOT people, my friend."

Have you heard the shouts yet? The volume will get louder as the people demand reversal of the U.S, Supreme Court's two-year old decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

This decision allows corporations to invest their corporate coffers in super PACS and control the airwaves during elections. It gives them First Amendment rights — rights intended for people — to use money as speech, yet another legal fiction of the court.

And, if anyone doubts the court would make such a decision, it is repeated loudly and clearly by the likes of front-running GOP candidate, Mitt Romney: "Corporations are people, my friend!" I'm sure you've heard the adage, "Repeat a lie often enough and people believe it." Don't let it happen. We must drown out the puppets of the richest 1 percent.

Add your voice to those that will echo around the federal court- house in Lexington at the corner of Limestone and Barr between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday, as we mourn the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

Friday's demonstration is being sponsored by Central Kentucky Move to Amend. Lexington is one of more than 100 sites around the country, including the Supreme Court, where such events will be held.

Long before Citizens United, other decisions had whittled away at our democracy. The promise of "one person, one vote" determining the outcome of elections has become a farce. The concept of politicians making decisions in the public interest is a fiction.

The fairly even playing field a democracy can provide has become a crater-filled obstacle course, with access to elected leaders determined by the size of financial contributions and the number of highly paid lobbyists. This has resulted in very few people trusting those who are elected by the fewer than 50 percent of citizens who still bother to vote.

Let's be clear: Corporations are not people; money is not speech. People need clean air, clean water, food and, ideally, love to survive; not so for corporations.

A human being thinks, tries to make ethical decisions, and is motivated by obligations to family and community. A corporation has no mind, no conscience and no motive but to amass money.

Yes, corporations pay workers, but not enough to hurt their very high bottom lines and in many cases not a living wage. Capital has long since been assumed more valuable than labor.

Corporations were created to serve the public, not for the public to serve them. They worked well in building our country, long before they were given the rights the Constitution intended for people. They had limited charters voted on by state legislatures; when their public purpose was accomplished, they ceased to exist.

Now corporations can exist forever and in many places at once. People, absent theological considerations, live for a little while and, even with technology working wonders, exist in only one place at a time.

How could we say that people and corporations should have an equal voice?

Citizens of yesteryear talked to neighbors; union members walked door-to-door; loyal party members made phone calls sharing opinions about issues and candidates. Many still try. But how many one-on-one contacts can a person make?

Corporations, on the other hand, can bombard us with costly commercials and "robo" calls. Citizens can write letters to their elected representatives, but compare that influence with the constant presence of lobbyists on Capitol Hill pressing the opinions of companies who financed the officials' campaigns.

A democracy this is not; it is a plutocracy. The 99 percent are beginning to understand their democracy is slipping away. They want it back.

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