To the editor:
In the quiet hush of the chamber of the United States Supreme Court, the Citizens United decision elevated corporations above their old role as useful economic tools, and bestowed upon them the rights of living human beings.
Now “we the people” must decide if we want to share sovereignty with corporations — or amend the constitution and overturn Citizens United.
Nine state legislatures and over 300 cities and towns across our country have decided to amend —Rockport Town Meeting and the Gloucester City Council included. These decisions were made in the loud, open, hurly-burly of our brawling democracy, not in a quiet room.
Voting “yes” on Nov. 6 on ballot Question 5 affirms that only living human beings are entitled to the First Amendment rights enumerated in the Constitution.
“We the people” wrote, ratified, lived for, and have died — by the millions — for this Constitution, and the people, and only the people are sovereign in this country. “We the people” loudly refuse to share our sovereignty with corporations--which are legal constructs that we allow to exist with certain economic privileges (such as limited liability) to do their valuable work.
Voting “yes” on ballot Question 5 also recognizes that “we the people” have an increasingly desperate need to regulate money in politics. It is impossible for ordinary people to compete with the economic clout of corporations and billionaires.
For in the quiet plushness of corporate boardrooms, enormous sums can be allocated to politicians and causes that promote the narrow, and often the foreign interests of corporations.
Citizens United opened the floodgates to money and to certainly the possibility of corruption- — while denying this was possible. Who are they fooling? Citizens United and other recent Court decisions overturned a century of bipartisan state and federal law trying to regulate money and keep our elections clean. Now executives in quiet rooms can determine public policy and wield the power of monarchs.
Ballot Question 5 asks that each of us look into our hearts — deep into the quiet chambers of our hearts. We must learn about Citizens United and how it has usurped the sovereignty of “we the people,” and how it has overwhelmed our loud, open, boisterous democracy with enormous sums of money — much of it given in silent secrecy.
Question 5 gives us all an opportunity to vote on how we want to decide the momentous issues of our time.
Will we decide to loudly affirm our ancient democracy and make those decisions democratically? Or will our future be decided in quiet rooms?
MICHAEL D. O’CONNOR