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Viewpoint

The decision by the United States Supreme Court in the so called “Citizens United” case that corporations are people was the correct decision. Corporations are organizations of people, managed by people, for the benefit of people i.e. the stockholders. The case did not involve the federal ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties, which remains illegal in races for federal office. There is a group of anti-corporation petitioners putting articles on town meeting agendas to restrict the rights of corporations to speak out about issues or petition the government. I have to wonder whom do they think runs corporations? The 1st Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to form corporations (right to assemble), and protects their right to speech including speech that tries to influence the government (right to petition the government with grievances).

When they say corporations do they mean all corporations? Will they be restricting Unions such SEIU or AFL-CIO or Non-Profits like American Red Cross or ABLE? Will they be restricting companies such as Americans For Prosperity a 501(c)C4 corporation?

You wouldn’t know because they are not telling us the exact wording of the amendment. They get everyone riled up that there is too much money in elections. People then vote to put in an amendment without knowing what the amendment says. For those that already voted on this you may have just voted away your right to speak!

In a stunning example of hypocrisy, the group behind this effort to restrict the rights of corporations is called “Public Citizen.” Based out of Washington DC, they themselves are a 501C4 issue advocacy corporation exempt from publishing the names of their donors! This is the group that has funded the field workers placed in every state, and built and maintained the websites such as NH4Democracy.org. Our Democracy is in serious trouble if one group can sway enough people to use the constitution to squelch the rights of people they dislike.

If you truly want to remove the corrupting influence of money you need to change the system. I can give two suggestions, I’m certain there are other viable ideas as well.

First is to repeal the 17th Amendment. The 17th Amendment changed how U.S. Senators get their seats. Ratified in 1913 this required the open election of Senators by popular vote instead of appointment by the Governor with confirmation by majority vote of the State Legislature. U.S. Senators are supposed to be the Ambassadors of the States in federal government affairs. This is why every State gets exactly 2 Senators, so every state is equal despite differences in population or land mass. This 100-year experiment has led the way to where we are today, a massive Federal Government that has swallowed up the rights of States to manage their affairs, with money now having an undue influence on the Congress.

The second suggestion would be a constitutional amendment that changes the term of a US House Representative from 2 years to 4 years and sets a specific limit on the number of terms any one Representative or Senator can serve, I would suggest 3 terms. The intention of the founders was to get people to commit to service for a short period of time, then to return home to their affairs so someone else can serve. The Founders never imagined that there would be a permanent ruling class that makes careers out of government service.

For those of you who may have already voted to take away the rights of some people perhaps even your own rights, you can write, call, or speak with your State Representative and explain how you didn’t fully understand what you were voting for, on these petition articles. For those with it coming up soon in your town Vote NO!

Bob DeMaura lives in Peterborough.

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