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Riki Ott: 4 Positive, Practical Steps for Responding to Citizens United

It’s easy to get cynical and discouraged by the Supreme Court ruling that:

  • IF corporations = people
  • THEN the Bill of Rights must apply to corporations, AND
  • IF money = speech (???)
  • THEN restricting corporate “soft” money in politics restricts the First Amendment rights of an individual (an individual who can’t be tried for a crime or sentenced to prison, of course).

Easy to get discouraged, yes. Understandable to be disgusted with the whole system, yes. But not constructive. Author Riki Ott has some practical steps you can take to get up off the floor, dust yourself off, and do something with your anger and frustration.

From YES! magazine:

First, BREATHE deeply and look out a window.

If you can’t see a mountain, river, forest, wetland, ocean, prairie, tundra, or even a patch of sky, close your eyes and imagine it. We aren’t any good for anything if we’re in a panic or funk.


Citizens United is merely the last straw in a haystack of (successful) corporate attempts to extend corporate constitutional “rights” to corporate persons.

The expansion of corporate rights began over 200 years ago as the anti-corporate fervor from the American Revolution began to fade. The U.S. Supreme Court blurred the distinction between  “natural persons,” or real, living human beings, and “artificial persons”—corporations—in 1886 when it conferred the 14th Amendment right of “equal protection of the laws” to an artificial person, a railroad corporation, in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. Since then, the Supreme Court has handed out other human rights to artificial persons (corporations), including the battery of First Amendment rights leading to Citizens United.

Since Santa Clara, literally hundreds—perhaps thousands—of local, state, federal, and international laws that attempt to protect our environment, our elections, our safety and health, and our right to organize have been overturned as a result of this doctrine. Armed with human rights and legal privileges, corporations have amassed enormous wealth and power and disabled democracy within all three branches of our government.

Read the whole article here.


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