Feingold v. Citizens United

February 16, 2011 | By | 6 Replies More

Former Senator Russ Feingold has taken on Citizen’s United by founding Progressives United:

Launching on Wednesday, Progressives United is an attempt to to build a grassroots effort aimed at mitigating the effects of, and eventually overturning, the Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United decision that opened the floodgates to corporate spending in the U.S. electoral system. In addition to online mobilization, the political action committee (PAC) will support progressive candidates at the local, state and national levels, as well as holding the media and elected officials accountable on the group’s key priorities.

Here’s more on Feingold and his new organization from Huffpo.

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Category: Campaign Finance Reform, Social justice

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (6)

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  1. dave says:

    Sorry, but how is this not just another political action committee? I thought PACs were part of the problem, no?

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Dave: Russ Feingold has been one of the few people in Congress I've trusted. I do wonder whether this is merely a way for Feingold to stay employed, but do tell me who would be better placed and more capable of bringing down Citizen's United? I'm certainly willing to listen.

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Dave:

    A more accurate assessment of PACs would be that too many of them represent the interests of the multinational corporations.

    Corporations are not persons. They are beasts that exist in a virtual realm were money is their only nutrition and human beings are their slaves and their fodder.

    The Republican party, once based on the advancement of rule by law, has been perverted by a cultish reverence of the corporation and now favor rule by exception. Corporate sponsored PACs have been the major weapon in their war on democracy, using massive funds to bury opposition while promoting candidates sympathetic to their cause.

    The Democrats have been affected to a lesser extent by the corporations, but without the the backing and control of the corporations, lack the focus to be effective against the blind allegiance to corporate money displayed by the Republicans. In effect, the Democrats have been politically bringing a knife to a gunfight.

  3. dave says:

    Nicklaus, Thanks for your comments, I would agree with most of what you lay out: PACs are tools of corporatism and the most direct method of buying influence in the government.

    Understanding that, however, incurs a few incongruities that I cannot get past (ethically):

    1. the very existence of PACs acknowledges that money = influence; but I also know money–> politics = bribery. I still cannot reconcile those two points.

    2. the GOP and DNC are both complicit in this, although some of these yahoos are much better at it than others (as you describe). But just because both "sides" are involved, that doesn't justify the overall behavior (Stalin vs. Hitler– who is the good guy?)

    3. I would agree that Corporations are not humans, but I would also understand that corporations are there specifically as agents of agreements and legal entities; they must have _some_ rights under the law (I'm just not sure where that line is). It would seem that speech is one of them. As long as money = speech (which it must in any market-oriented society), then corporations have a right to express their speech via money. I hate this part personally, but I cannot find an alternative logical path.

    So for me, I go the other way: let's embrace the market of influence. Let's create a system where influence is bought openly, and perhaps funds the entire government. Forgive the self-promotion, but I outlay my plan here: http://www.davejenkins.com/2011/02/18/sanctioned-

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Dave: Interesting idea, selling votes in a transparent way. But natural people will be at least somewhat divided in who they seek, while the businesses with the most money will end up with what is likely to be the controlling segment. Who has the money? Bankers, insurance, telecoms, energy and other large industries. Won't we be ruled by representatives of the big-monied corporations given your scenario? Isn't that what we have now?

  4. dave says:

    Erich, in answer to your question: yes, large corps and unions have the money, and yes, that is how it is now. I am not trying to end that influence, I am trying to make it transparent and perhaps benefit from it: no more income tax and no more distortions of the market from playing with what gets taxed and what gets a tax break. Companies and organizations will be free to buy votes or not– free to try and influence the system or not.

    At $10K each, however, much of the middle class actually could buy a vote if they wanted. Moreover, I don't think corporations would be as monopolar as feared: some would want to boost exports and free trade (Boeing and Monsanto), while others would want to protect domestic markets (Tyson and Ford). In the end, the argument would shift towards rules and behaviour, not handouts and tax breaks (because there are none).

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