The Anniversary of Citizens United

  • Posted on: 10 January 2012
  • By: JesseColeman

January 21st marks the two year anniversary of Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee, the landmark Supreme Court case that removed limits on election spending by corporations and other moneyed interests, overthrowing 100 years of election laws. 

( For more background on CU v FEC, read this blog and watch the video from the Story of Stuff.)

The Citizens United case has already begun affecting elections.  Spending on political television ads funded by anonymous donors is already five times what it was during the entire Republican primary season four years ago, according to estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG.

An example of the kind of propaganda corporate polluters are flooding the airwaves with - thanks to Citizens United – is the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) new election cycle ad campaign, released last week.

The new advertising campaign is an attempt to hoodwink Americans into supporting Big Oil’s political agenda by faking grassroots support for the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking, and offshore arctic drilling. Now that the Supreme Court has decided API can use Big Oil’s millions to influence elections, API, the Chamber of Commerce, and other industry fronts can relentlessly attack candidates that don't support the fossil fuel industry’s political agenda.

Greenpeace caught API in the act of creating this Astroturf campaign, when activists responded to a leaked casting email that invited “real people not actors” to share their views on energy.  When the activists showed up to the shoot, API tried to use them as puppets, feeding them lines and strictly controlling what people could say on camera.  

Greenpeace created a parody commercial and website called "vote 4 energy" to point out API’s manipulations, but without millions of dollars of oil and gas money for ad buys, API’s lies will likely reach many more people.
 
Therein lies the fundamental injustice of the Citizens United decision, it increases the power of the richest sectors of society, allowing those with the most money to have the biggest voice in elections.  Because of Citizens United, Groups like API now wield advertising dollars like a cudgel, threatening politicians with unrelenting attack ads if politicians dare to deviate from corporate approved policies.  API’s president Jack Gerard admitted this strategy when he unveiled his ad campaign, promising “Huge political consequences” if President Obama does not approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

 

It is up to the people of America to beat back this corporate takeover of our government.  As the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision approaches, a growing and diverse movement has been building to pursue the only remedy that can overcome the entrenched Supreme Court majority’s distortion of the First Amendment: amending the Constitution to reverse Citizens United and broadly ensure free and fair elections, uncorrupted by excessive corporate influence.                                                                               

We need to tell corporate manipulators this is not over.  Demand your right to democracy for the people and by the people by joining one of the many actions taking place to mark the anniversary of Citizens United, starting January 19.  The People for the American Way have set up a website that can connect you to an event in your area.  There are hundreds of events across the nation so get involved!!  

 

Those interested in how pro-corporate forces have plotted to hijack democracy for more than three decades, check out the report on the Powell Memorandum, a blueprint for corporate takeover of democracy written by former Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell.

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