We are disappointed by your stance on the Citizens United decision and proposed constitutional amendment to reverse it (Belmont Citizen’s Herald, March 25, and your website).
You cast doubt on the alarming implications of the Court’s decision, asking “…do we, the people, feel that we need to be protected by government from hearing the loud voices of powerful private interests — perhaps because we believe we ourselves won’t be able to adequately hear other interests or perhaps because we believe that our elected officials will too often be intimidated and corrupted by the loud voices?” Our answer to this is, yes, on all counts. When the high court in the land makes a decision that a corporation is the same as my Aunt Milly, we think there’s cause for alarm.
We agree with Edmond Robinson who writes in an earlier posting on this site, “We are deeply into a corporate plutocracy.” And yes, corporations can have economic power far beyond any individual. How can we ever hope to level the playing field in political campaigns (we think this should be the goal) and ensure that all voices are heard, when corporate money controls the field? You could argue that political campaigns in this country have never been conducted on a level playing field, and you would be right. But the increasing corporatization of our society, enshrined now in the Citizens United decision, has tilted the field by an order of magnitude.
Corporations are not people. They are organized solely, as Edmond says, to make profits. They have no purpose in a political campaign other than to further their interests, which are only coincidentally the same as the interests of citizens and communities. The money they’re able to amass has the power to distort the truth and to repeat distortions in the media to the point that they are plausible to many. And we know from the historical record that when times are tough, as they are now, people who are most hard hit are the most vulnerable to distortions of the truth and frequently vote against their own interests out of fear and ignorance.
The bill you are promoting, which would require disclosure of corporate contributions to political campaigns, in comparison to what needs to be done, seems academic, even beside the point. Does it really matter whether we know which corporation has bought this or that politician and for how much? It doesn’t change the problem.
Mayhew Seavey and Victoria Thatcher
Thanks for speaking out on this.
Just to be sure you know, the Massachusetts Senate did agree with you overwhelmingly, passing Senate 772 (the resolution calling for an overturning of Citizens United) by a vote of 35 to 1 last week with me voting alone against it. So, it is done, but I’d be delighted to sit down and have a full conversation with you about this and re-explore all the issues.
My colleagues did agree with me that the disclosure measure that you dismiss is worth moving forward, passing it as well last week. However, the House has yet to take up either the disclosure or the recommendation for a constitutional amendment.
I greatly value your friendship and appreciate your support in the many other areas that we do agree.
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