The U.S. Senate voted this past week on a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United (CU) decision, which opened the floodgates to unlimited campaign spending. The proposed amendment would give Congress and the States the right to control the flood of money corrupting our elections. It failed to pass the Senate even though it won a majority of the votes (54-42) because constitutional amendments require a 2/3 majority of the Senate and House to move a proposed amendment to the states for ratification.
We the People Alaska, a coalition now active in twelve Alaska communities, believes our State constitution intended for people to run Alaska and not “artificial persons” or entities, such as corporations, unions and other associations.
Article 1 Section 2 Source of Government:
“All political power is inherent in the people. All government originates with the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the people as a whole.”
WtP Alaska supported the intent of the proposed federal constitutional amendment, although we didn’t believe it addressed the underlying challenge facing our democracy, the granting of constitutional rights to artificial entities.
Nevertheless, the Senate vote raised an interesting question. Shortly after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on CU in 2010, polls showed ~80% of Americans: Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Greens, Libertarians and politically unaffiliated citizens believed the Supreme Court got it wrong. Four years have passed and although the numbers have softened a bit, probably due in no small part to the outreach efforts of the multinational corporations that supported the CU outcome, recent polls still show 60% of the country, still across all party lines, believes the Supreme Court has put us on the wrong path.
We the People Alaska is not endorsing candidates or supporting one party over another. But we do wonder why no Republican Senator voted for the proposed amendment even though 58% of Republicans polled nationwide still oppose the CU decision and would like to see controls placed on corporate spending in elections. If these Senators are not representing the people that voted them into office, whom (or what) are they representing?
A similar disconnect is apparently at play in Alaska. An overwhelming number of letters and comments published in Alaska newspapers during the recent primary campaign bemoaned how BIG MONEY is contaminating our political process. There’s no evidence Alaska feels any differently than the rest of the country on this issue. A ballot measure last year to change the Haines Borough Charter (the local “constitution”) on the issue of corporate constitutional rights matched the national numbers: ~60% of this community, famous for its political divide, voted to oppose constitutional rights for artificial persons.
Which brings us to We the People Alaska’s Constitution Pledge, an opportunity for elected officials and candidates for public office to confirm their belief that the Alaska constitution guaranteed rights to individual people and not artificial people. Alaska has forty State House seats, twenty State Senate seats, two U.S. Senators, one U.S. Congressman, and one Governor/Lt. Governor team. Almost all of these offices are up for grabs in November, and as of mid-September, twenty-seven candidates (or seated officials not up for election this year) have signed the Pledge. We expect many more to sign in the coming month. The twenty-seven Alaskans who have already signed are Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, and Constitution party members – but not one Republican. Many Alaskan Republicans certainly support the Pledge. Our list of Pledge Endorsers is sufficient proof: Arliss Sturgelewski, Ray Metcalfe, and John Havelock all held political positions in the State as Republicans. Endorsers Malcolm and Cindy Roberts have long been supporters of Independents like Wally Hickel, and no one ever accused Alaska Outdoor Council ED Rod Arno of being a liberal! This politically diverse group of Pledge Endorsers has been joined by other well-known Alaskans such as Vic Fischer, Chancey Croft, Beth Kerttula and James Wanamaker.
If we are to be successful in returning political power in Alaska to the people of Alaska, we will need support from all corners of the State, geographic and political. There are six weeks to go before our general election – c’mon Alaska Republicans! Call your candidates and tell them you support the Alaska constitution’s guarantee of rights for individual people and not for state-chartered property such as corporations and unions. We need them on board! Please visit our webpage to learn more about this issue, read the Pledge, and sign up your support.
We the People Alaska