Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Panel at Netroots Nation considers corporate power in elections post Citizens United

This year's Netroots Nation, featured a panel discussion on energizing voters and activists to take on issues surrounding election funding, corporate power, and how to challenge the influence of big money on public interest-based governance. "After Citizens United: Combating Corporate Power in Elections" featured Jay Harris introducing the sponsoring groups, as well as John Nichols, Laura Flanders, Amanda Terkel and Leo Gerard. Netroots Nation organizers are posting panel discussion videos online; we'll keep an eye on the site and link to the video when it's available--from reports, it was a very popular and energizing discussion.

Netroots Nation also saw the launch of the United for the People web portal, a site with links to lots of groups working on issues surrounding corporate personhood, political bribery, democratic governance, and your political participation. The portal is a project of People for the American Way. Check out all the sites and get active!

Finally, here's some good good words by blogger April Lukes-Streich, an activist working in the banking industry in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She writes for ethecofem on gender, class issues, and local politics. In the excerpt below, the emphasis is ours.

The third session was After Citizens United: Combating Corporate Power in Elections. Like many of the panels I attended, money was a central focus of the discussion. The solution offered by the panelists here was, perhaps surprisingly, a constitutional amendment ending corporate personhood. Many people think that such an amendment would never pass, as it’s been quite some time since we’ve amended the Constitution; on the other hand, the support is behind the spirit of the amendment. It was mentioned that we often perceive the fact that there are so many grassroots, progressive non-profits that are working toward the same thing as an indication of factions within the progressive movement; this is not necessarily true. On the contrary, these groups are fighting for the same end goal and are mobilizing their communities. As is another frequent theme of Netroots this year, starting small and coming together to effect real, nationwide change is key to progressive victory. Simple measures work best, as Laura Flanders of GritTV noted: contact local media, local candidates who they are accepting donations from, be present at as many open forums and townhall meetings as you can manage. We can make a difference if we’re willing to be persistent.

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