Saturday, September 18, 2010

How to stop corporations from hijacking democracy

Corporations are back in the saddle pouring millions, possibly even billions, into the upcoming elections.  A Supreme Court ruling overturned congressional legislation that limited what corporations could do in elections.  The SC ruled basically that corporations are "people" and that they had the right to donate as they pleased to candidates and causes.

Of course, the SC did not vote that corporations could vote like people. Obviously they did not want to expose themselves to too much ridicule.  Nor do corporation have to register for the draft, or pay estate taxes when they "die." Corporations are apparently exempt from jury duty also.

However, ordinary people have already proven during the Obama campaign that they are capable of dealing with big money interests when they work together.  During the presidential race, people making relatively small contributions of as little as $5 over even less were able, as a team, to out raise the wealthy Republican corporate heads. 

Money though was only part of what made victory possible. Volunteering, including netroots campaigning, is just as good and often even better than cash.

The internet allows each supporter to act like a mini-broadcast network. In the old days, candidates had to shell out big bucks to TV and radio broadcasters, but now their supporters can broadcast for them for free.  Of course, each supporter's network is much, much smaller than that of a national or local network.

However, we you combine the efforts of a million -- or ten million supporters -- then the battlefield changes.  Supporters can easily share an article, video or just a status update several times a day. To get that kind of messaging with paid media buys is tremendously expensive.

Once on online campaign gets going, just like a ground campaign, it tends to create its own propulsion.  The more supporters invest in the campaign, the more they feel committed to ensuring the success of the campaign.

So, the power to stop the corporations exists.  Each one of us possesses that power, but it is up to each one of us to decide to use the potential that we possess.

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