HOW TO GET BIG MONEY OUT OF ELECTIONS & RECLAIM THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF ‘WE THE PEOPLE’

Please join David Cobb, nationally known spokesperson for Move to Amend, as he pulls back the curtain on the decades-old story of how corporations have gotten the Supreme Court to give them constitutional rights reserved for the people by the framers of the Constitution. Using these rights, corporations and the super-rich are now allowed to spend unlimited sums to influence our elections!

David’s talk couldn’t be better timed.  On November 6, nearly a third of Massachusetts voters will have the chance to vote on the “Democracy Amendment” question, a nonbinding ballot question calling for a constitutional amendment to end corporate constitutional rights and allow us to establish spending limits in political campaigns.

Meet other concerned citizens who want to reclaim our democracy! Get involved in the growing national movement for an amendment to the US Constitution!

Date:    Thursday, September 20th, from 7p.m. to 9 p.m.

Location:   Natick Senior Center,  90 Oak Street, Natick MA

David Cobb is National Projects Director of Democracy Unlimited. He is a lawyer and political activist. David has sued corporate polluters, lobbied elected officials, run for political office himself, and has been arrested for non-violent civil disobedience.  He truly believes we must use ALL the tools in the toolbox to effect the systemic social change we so desperately need. 

Co-Sponsored by Common Cause, Democracy Amendment Coalition of MA, Occupy Natick
Progressive Democrats of America – Greater Boston (PDA)

Major Updates: Need Help!

Not only did Needham pass our town meeting resolution and the state pass its anti-CitizensUnited resolution– democracy-fans got a “Citizens United” question (nicknamed “The Democracy Amendment”, read more here) onto the Needham ballot for November 6, 2012! (yeah, we have to update parts of this website that are still talking about the town meeting vote as “coming up”!)

That means, in addition to voting on President and US Senate, voters will have a chance to say whether they want corporate interests to be able to spend unlimited resources on our campaigns.

It’s not a binding question. But it is yet another means by which WE THE PEOPLE can voice our demand that lawmakers take action! They hadn’t been listening very carefully…. But the broad grassroots movement–which we in Needham are a part of– have stirred politicians at the highest levels to take notice.

With the question on the ballot– we need to get the word out to voters!

We need some help on THURSDAY, ELECTION DAY, September 6, in Needham:

Can you help for even just an hour (or even less if that’s all you got) at the polls on Thursday? We will be handing out INFORMATION/LITERATURE about the ballot question–to get the word out about the anti-Citizens United vote on November 6!

This is not so hard stuff–please email wethepeopleneedham@gmail.com with your availability on Thursday, Sept. 6.  In particular, we would like to have commute times covered, when there’s the highest foot traffic.

Local Activists In ‘Resolutions Week’

Citizens United Targeted By Local Activists In ‘Resolutions Week’ Push

Across the country citizens are working this week to mobilize local communities in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and kick money out of politics.

Hey Needham — you were on the vanguard of this. Read more here.

Boston Herald: 56 Mass. towns urge Congress to reverse Citizens United

Amherst, Boston and Cambridge are among 56 cities and towns across Massachusetts that are calling on Congress to pass an amendment overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, which has opened up new opportunities for unlimited amounts of corporate and union funds to influence elections around the country.

The court, in a 5-4 ruling two years ago, ruled that restrictions on corporate expenditures in elections violate constitutionally protected free speech rights.

According to the Democracy Amendment Coalition of Massachusetts, they hit the 50-community milestone on May 14 when town meetings in four communities approved resolutions calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment overturning the court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.

Read More at this link

How does Citizens United affect our town?

The text below is excerpted from Public Citizen; PDF of full document can be seen here.

The federal impact of Citizens United is well publicized, but it is also important to understand the effect this ruling has on local towns and cities throughout the nation.

Corporate Spending Can Have an Even Greater Impact Locally

The egregious levels of outside spending on the federal level are well documented. In the 2010 Congressional elections, spending by corporations and wealthy individuals totaled almost $300 million.

The super-rich are dominating the 2012 election cycle, with over one-third of all contributions to Super PACs coming from just ten individuals. In comparison to these mammoth sums of money, it only takes a modest amount of money to have a transformative impact on a local election.

If multi-million dollar Super-PACs can buy the victory of even presidential candidates,

then what’s stopping them from influencing local political elections?

Consider This: In the April 2012 elections for Oklahoma City Council the Super-PAC “Committee for Oklahoma City Momentum” spent $400,000 on four candidates. The annual salary for an Oklahoma City Council member is $12,000 annually. Three of these four candidates won their campaigns. The only candidate who was able to defeat one of these Super Pac candidates noted deep concerns he saw with the democratic implications of a Super-PAC spending large sums on campaign ads without disclosing its donors.

Or This: Durham County in North Carolina is also experiencing the effects of SuperPACs. The SuperPAC “Durham Partnership for Progress” – funded by a developing firm – spent thousands of dollars on a mailer supporting four council people who support a controversial development project the that the firm, Southern Durham Development, plans to build. The SuperPAC’s support helped elect two of those council people into office in elections held on May 8, 2012.

Click here to read more from this information sheet from Public Citizen.

Boston.com: Needham Town Meeting Calls for Constitutional Amendment

Boston.com: Needham Town Meeting calls for constitutional amendment on campaign spending

Lois Sockol, who spoke at Town Meeting in favor of Article 23

Many argued that though the article ostensibly deals with a national issue, the issue of possible political corruption could have local effects.

“None of us, none of us, unless we hide under a rock, can not be influenced by the electoral process and the people in power,” said Lois Sockol.

Citizens United, she said, tore the fabric of American democracy.

“Big money has a powerful fist, more powerful than any individual.

Nowhere in the equation of big money and the individual is there basic equality.

By this very inequality, unlimited contributions undermine the basic American creed,” she said.

“We are a government of the people. By the people. And for the people.”

Citizens United: Judicial Activism

Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker argues that the Citizens United decision was an extraordinary example of judicial activism:

Above all, though, the result represented a triumph for Chief Justice Roberts.

Even without writing the opinion, Roberts, more than anyone, shaped what the Court did.

As American politics assumes its new form in the post-Citizens United era, the credit or the blame goes mostly to him.

Constitutional Amendment: An Overwhelmingly Popular Idea

American as Apple PieWhen an overwhelming majority of Americans–regardless of their political leanings–in poll after poll show that they are sick of the campaign funding system we have, suspicious of the government it creates, critical of the ‘Citizens United’ ruling, and supportive of a Constitutional Amendment to start to fix all of this… 

Town Meeting’s upcoming vote on Article 23 is about the most un-controversial action we can take!

Though the policies and the legalese can become complex, at the end of the day, the issue is simple: corporations–economic entities with a legalistic ‘personhood’ structure–are not people, and are not protected by the Bill of Rights.

When the highest bidder can buy our elections, your single vote counts less and less. Our ability to decide what we want for our town–our local control of our priorities and values–is undermined at the very foundation.

Our forefathers left England to escape a system where the aristocracy controlled everyone’s fates. But we have allowed that same scenario to be recreated in our campaign financing system, and Citizens United just made it worse.

The politicians who are now enslaved to the corrupting system cannot be relied on to advance the changes we need. It has to start with the People.

Let’s do this!

See you Monday.