Remember when Mitt Romney said, with a wink and a nod, “Corporations are people, too”?
In this republic of the people, by the people and for the people, IBM, ExxonMobil, Microsoft and other corporate giants have become people.
Get this: An organization that does not and cannot care one whit for clean air and water, children, education, God, national defense, poor, disabled or homeless people has won the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
A U.S. Senate race today costs more than the total state budget not so long ago.
Montana has already caught its mauling from big corporations. Around the turn of the last century, the Anaconda Co. joined hands with Montana Power Co., the railroads and a number of large ranchers to mold a government of their liking - of the rich, for the rich and by the rich.
Legislators elected by the coalition fought industrial safety rules, any whiff of air and water protection, minimum wage hikes and other big bux issues.
In 1912, a disgruntled Montana electorate banned all corporate contributions to candidates through a voter initiative. Joseph Dixon, a progressive Republican and the only person to serve Montana as governor, U.S. representative and U.S. senator, led the charge in the passage of this ballot issue.
The Montana Corrupt Practices Act served the state for 100 years until nullified by the Supreme court. The U.S. Supreme Court overruled lower courts in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. The Supremes, that nonet in black dresses, seemed to be waiting for this one.
Citizens United is a conservative group intent on turning corporate cash into the Voice of the People. The fight wedged its way into the High Court through a dustup over Citizens United’s documentary of Hillary Clinton’s life.
Clinton defenders argued that the film violated state and local laws banning corporate campaign spending. The court, in an act of brazen activism, ruled that corporations are legal citizens with all the rights of breathing, bleeding citizens.
Reaction to the Citizens United ruling has agitated pro-democracy groups across the United States. Cities and states have passed legislation spelling out the difference between natural persons and organizations claiming to be.
These laws, of course, will be unconstitutional by the Citizens United verdict. The object is to gather enough steam to pressure Congress into passing a bill allowing a new Corrupt Practices Act on the ballot.
Sooner or later it will take a constitutional change to correct the current court’s “legislation from the bench.”
In the meantime, we could take a lot of the wang out of the big bux fight by treating the high rollers the way they treat us. Consider this modest proposal:
Let us begin with opposition research. Do some serious digging. Does any high-ranking member of the Political Action Committee or corporation have a felony record, a record of sex offenses, drug use, alcohol addiction?
What do ex-spouses have to say about them? How about former employees, state or federal inspectors, enforcement officers, high school or college girlfriends and boyfriends, disgruntled customers or business partners?
Pair any of these items with any of our big bux bad guys and you have the fixings for scandal. Note, the story you concoct need not be true. None of the negative campaigners today play that brand of politics.
Lay it on casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, heap it on that road-killed possum Karl Rove, save enough to bury the Koch brothers.Use Twitter, Facebook or other social media to spread the word. Follow the lead of city residents from Missoula to Las Angeles, petitioning your city council and county commission to pass resolutions asking Congress to put the Corrupt Practices Act into the U.S. Constitution.