Suppose for a moment that you are your congressional representative. Two calls are coming in to your office at the same time. One is from someone like yourself, an individual who lives in that representative's congressional voting district. The other call is from the Chairman of Bank of America, who lives in another state, but is offering a substantial campaign donation. Which call will be taken?
With few exceptions, we know...the one that is likely to produce the most money...the call from the Bank of America Chairman will win.
Before a string of Supreme Court decisions in the 1870s, however, taking the call (and money) from the Bank of America executive would have been a criminal act on the part of both the Congressional Representative and the bank chairman. A case involving Southern Pacific Railroad and Santa Clara County, CA, however, changed all that. The high court ruled that corporations are "citizens" and therefore have the right to make such bribes without running afoul of the law.
The word "corporation" does not appear in the United State Constitution a single time, so it is clear that the Supreme Court justices compromised their own integrity in this ruling. The more recent string of decisions beginning with FEC v. Citizens United, would indicate that the current justices are continuing the high court's infidelity to the ultimate law of our land 140 years later.
How anyone, especially a Supreme Court justice, can reasonably claim that a box of papers with a corporate seal is a "citizen" defies any possible logic and all reason. The result has been the takeover of our nation and its representatives by corporate America, leading to the perversion of our political process as it exists today.
No person or non-person has the constitutional right to bribe my congressional representative with a donation. Only those living breathing human beings residing within that representative's congressional district have the lawful right to donate money to that representative's campaign. This exclusion of outside money should include not only individuals from other congressional districts, but corporations, PACs, unions, and even political parties. This is ground zero of the battle to take back our nation.
Under Article 2 of our Constitution, the States still have the right and authority to set the rules regarding the election of both congressional representatives and senators. That is where our efforts should begin. By restricting campaign donations to individual citizens residing within that State's geographical voting districts, our representatives suddenly have nothing to sell corporate America. They have nothing to sell PACs and unions. They can no longer be controlled by political parties with agendas that rarely match those of their constituents either. Their only reasonable concern would then be what is best for those they were chosen to represent at home.
Think for a moment what this one change could mean for our country. Government would no longer serve business interests, it would serve We the People. Think for a moment about how few wars and conflicts we would have experienced as a nation this past century, if "business interests" were not the driving force behind them. Think of how solvent our country would be absent the corporate welfare that bloats our national budget. Think of how few laws restricting our lives and freedoms would exist without the influence of the K Street lobbyists. Think of how few prisons would have been built in our country without that industry and its guard unions paying congressional representatives to pass the 314,000 laws we now have with prison as a penalty. Think of the impact on our environment if business interests did not drive its regulation.
Our nation would transform overnight and we could once again live within our financial means.
This is a battle worth fighting. We must devolve back to constitutional representation if our government is ever to return to being one of and by We the People.
Viva la devolution.
Howell W. Woltz
Born in North Carolina and educated at the University of Virginia, Wake Forest University and Caledonian University in Scotland, Howell now lives in Warsaw, Poland with his wife, Dr. Magdalena Iwaniec-Woltz. Howell is the European Correspondent for The Richardson Post and Chairman of The International Centre for Justice.