REAL Democracy History Calendar: September 26 – October 2

September 26

1889 – Birth of Martin Heidegger, German philosopher, on thinking

“The things that are the most difficult to think about are the things that are most familiar to us.”

[Note: This includes corporations, which are all around us, embedded in our lives and deemed inevitable and irreversible in their size, scope, power and rights. Yet, their power and rights are human created. What has been consciously and deliberately done can be consciously and deliberately undone. It’s up to us to be the doers.]

1961 – Death of Charles E. Wilson, CEO of General Motors corporation and U.S. Secretary of Defense

“For years I thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist. Our company is too big. It goes with the welfare of the country.”

2017 – “Corporations Have Rights. Why Shouldn’t Rivers?” online published article

“Does a river — or a plant, or a forest — have rights?

“This is the essential question in what attorneys are calling a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit, in which a Denver lawyer and a far-left environmental group are asking a judge to recognize the Colorado River as a person.

“If successful, it could upend environmental law, possibly allowing the redwood forests, the Rocky Mountains or the deserts of Nevada to sue individuals, corporations and governments over resource pollution or depletion. Future lawsuits in its mold might seek to block pipelines, golf courses or housing developments and force everyone from agriculture executives to mayors to rethink how they treat the environment.”

2019 – “We can’t rely on corporations to reform themselves – we must challenge their power,” online published article by Michelle Meagher

“Why should we trust these companies to serve the public interest just because they say they will? We shouldn’t. The passivity encouraged by free market thinking has led to obscenely unequal and damaging results. The public must serve its own interests, either directly or through representation. This is a core principle of political democracy, and is necessary if we are to maintain any semblance of economic democracy.”

2019 – “Legal Rights of the Natural World: Beyond Personhood” online posting

“Ecosystems are not human, and they certainly don’t bear human responsibilities. Rather, nature requires its own unique rights that recognize its needs and characteristics.

“As there is growing agreement among lawmakers and courts across the globe that it is time to recognize nature as possessing rights, legal systems need to evolve as well. This means moving beyond legal personhood…

“Much like in Galileo’s time in which we were forced to accept that the sun does not revolve around the earth, today we must realize that the natural world does not revolve around us. In this fiftieth anniversary year of the moon landing, perhaps it is time that we once again reconsider our place in the universe.

September 27

1672 – Royal Africa Company chartered

The corporation was granted a charter, or license to exist, by the King of England. The charter established a legal monopoly on English trade in West Africa. The main communities that it mined and sold: gold and slaves.  

1960 – Death of Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst, English campaigner for the suffragette movement in the United Kingdom

“My belief in the growth and permanence of democracy is undimmed. I know that the people will cast off the new dictatorship as they did the old. I believe as firmly as in my youth that humanity will surmount the era of poverty and war.”

September 28

551 BC – Celebrated Birthday of Confucius – Chinese teacher, editor, politician and philosopher

“When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition are something to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and honors are to be ashamed of.”

Also: “Oppressive government is fiercer and more to be feared than any tiger.”

1903 – Death of Henry Demarest Lloyd, American progressive political activist and muckraker

“We are calling upon the owners of industrial power and property, as mankind called upon kings in their day, to be good and kind, wise and sweet, and we are calling upon them in vain…We have put power in their hands and ask them not to use it as power.” (1894)

1918 – Death of David K. Watson, Ohio Republican Attorney General

Watson sought to revoke the charter of the Standard Oil Company in 1892 for forming a trust. In his legal brief to the Ohio Supreme Court, he stated, “Where a corporation, either directly or indirectly, submits to the domination of an agency unknown to the statute, or identifies itself with and unites in carrying out an agreement whose performance is injurious to the public, it thereby offends against the law of its creation and forfeits all right to its franchises, and judgment of ouster should be entered against it . . .” State v. Standard Oil Co., 30 N.E. 279 (Ohio 1892)   

2008 — Ecuador’s new constitution ratified by people, recognizes fundamental rights of nature

A constitutional referendum was held on this date (note, this is no equivalent provision for direct democratic participation by We the People in the U.S. Constitution). It passed by 69%. Among its provisions was this:

“Natural communities and ecosystems possess the unalienable right to exist, flourish, and evolve within Ecuador. Those rights shall be self-executing,and it shall be the duty and right of all Ecuadorian governments, communities and individuals to enforce those rights.”

2021 – Video posting of “The New Corporation – Panel Discussion”

You Remember The Corporation? One of the most powerful films of the early 2000s documenting corporate power and the danger of the corporate person. A lot has changed since then and the creators of The Corporation have created “an unfortunately necessary sequel”, The New Corporation. Join us for a Live virtual panel discussion with the creators of The New Corporation film and organizers in the fight against #CorporateRule.

September 29

2008 – Bank Bailout Bill Fails in Congress

The financial industry imploded in 2007 and 2008. The causes were primarily banking corporations engaging in incredibly risky loans (i.e. subprime mortgages) and too much leverage (loaning out many more times than actual assets – in some cases 30 times – called “fractional reserve” lending). The response was a call to bail out the largest financial corporations that had the greatest amount of toxic assets (called “zombie” banks). Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, former head of Goldman Sachs financial corporation, on behalf of the Bush administration introduced a vague, three page proposal asking for $700 billion to bail out the big banks. The public was outraged at what they rightly thought was a blank check bailout. Calls to Congress numbered more than 10:1 against the bill. Congress voted the act down. 

September 30

2004 — Publication this month of “Standing Up To Power: Community Challenges Corporate Claims to Constitutional “Rights” by Virginia Rasmussen & Richard Grossman

“Since the American Revolution, people across this country have engaged in passionate debate and sustained struggle to define the proper nature of corporations. Over the past half-century, those debates and struggles have often taken the form of community resistance to corporate and government imposition of projects on unwilling communities.

“The claims asserted by FROST members can be heard today in many communities where people are resisting state-sanctioned corporate might. That is because the issues presented here are intimately tied to a central source of injustice – that a republican form of government constitutionally guaranteed to the people cannot exist when the State does nothing to prevent corporate directors and their agents from doing what the Constitution forbids the State to do.” — Friends and Residents of St. Thomas Township (FROST)

2019 — “Supreme Court justices should have term limits” posted article

“These days, it’s the justices, and not the people or their elected representatives, who decide who gets health care and who can vote, whom we can marry and who’s allowed into the country, who’s won a presidential election and who can spend money on the next one.

“Meanwhile, the court has also had a historic lack of turnover and nationally embarrassing confirmation hearings. Justices often serve past their prime, including one who stayed after a debilitating stroke, until they feel assured that a politically like-minded president will occupy the Oval Office and guarantee an appropriate replacement. When unexpected vacancies occur, partisans on both sides wage no-holds-barred battles for the seat.

“These trends make it no wonder that three-fourths of the country supports swapping out Supreme Court life tenure for term limits. Judicial term limits are not a novel concept; they already exist for many of the highest courts across the Western world. Plus, 49 of 50 US state courts of last resort have term limits, retention elections, or mandatory retirement age.”

[Note: Though written last year, this piece is especially timely)

2019 – “Is the Supreme Court using the First Amendment to empower corporations, the right?” posted online

“New book by longtime Berkeley lawyer and educator William Bennett Turner, Free Speech for Some: How the Supreme Court is Weaponizing the First Amendment to Empower Corporations and the Religious Right.  ‘The Roberts Court has decided that certain categories of individuals don’t have full First Amendment rights: students, prisoners, government employees and military personnel (also workers). The court in Citizens United didn’t satisfactorily explain why corporations should have greater speech protection than these real human beings.’”


October 1

1854 – California State Supreme Court decision stating that non-whites are barred from testifying in court

“No black, mulatto or indian shall be allowed to give evidence in favor of or against a white man.” People v Hall, 4 Cal 399 (1854)

1997 – “Can Corporations Become Enlightened? A Buddhist Critique of Transnational Corporations” by David Loy

“[Despite the talk we occasionally hear about “enlightened” corporations, a corporation cannot actually become enlightened in the Buddhist sense of the word. Buddhist enlightenment includes realizing that my sense of being a self apart from the world is a delusion that causes suffering for the world and for me. To realize that I am the world—that I am one of the many ways the world manifests—is the cognitive side of the love that an enlightened person feels for the world and its creatures. The realization and the love are two sides of the same coin, which is why Buddhism emphasizes that genuine enlightenment is accompanied by a spontaneous welling-up of compassion for all other sentient beings. Legal fictions such as corporations cannot experience this any more than robots or computers can.”

This is from a chapter from the book “The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory,”

(2003 edition), first published on October 1, 1997.

2014 – Robert F. Kennedy Jr. calls for “corporate death penalty”

“I do…believe that corporations which deliberately, purposefully, maliciously and systematically sponsor climate lies should be given the death penalty. This can be accomplished through an existing legal proceeding known as ‘charter revocation’” State Attorneys General can invoke this remedy whenever corporations put their profit-making before the “public welfare.”

October 2

1869 – Birth of Mohandas Gandhi

“First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”

Also: His “Seven Deadly Sins”

Wealth Without Work

Pleasure Without Conscience

Knowledge Without Character

Commerce (Business) Without Morality (Ethics)

Science Without Humanity

Religion Without Sacrifice

Politics Without Principle

2012 – Man ticketed for driving in carpool lane with corporation

“On Oct. 2nd, 2012, Jonathan “The Carpool Guy” Frieman was driving in Marin County’s carpool lane alongside legal documents that represented his nonprofit corporation, the JoMiJo Foundation, when he was pulled over by California Highway Patrol and issued a citation for violating California’s High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), aka carpool regulations. Jonathan was the only human passenger in the car; however, California’s High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), aka carpool regulations. These set the number at “2 or more persons per vehicle,” for driving in the carpool lane during permitted hours. Jonathan was the only human passenger in the car; however.  

At the time of the citation on Oct 2nd, Mr. Frieman had informed the state trooper that he was not in violation of California State Vehicle Code because the nonprofit corporation next to him (represented by its articles of incorporation) qualifies as a “person” under state law. Nonetheless, the state trooper cited Mr. Frieman and instructed him to take it up with the court.”

2019 — “PG&E was found guilty of crimes connected to the deaths of 8 people. So, why didn’t anyone go to jail? Here’s why:” Facebook short video

[A must watch!!]

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: September 19 – 25

September 19

1907 – Birth of Lewis Powell, advocate for a more activist pro-corporate Supreme Court

Attorney Lewis Powell wrote a memo to the US Chamber of Commerce in 1971 entitled, “Attack on American Free Enterprise System.” The memo called for a deliberate campaign by corporations to use an “activist minded Supreme Court” to shape “social, economic and political change” to the advantage of corporations.

Two months later, Powell was nominated to the Supreme Court. His tenure coincided with a new wave of judicial activism with corporations granted several additional never-intended constitutional rights concerning the right to speak and not to speak – which overruled the people’s laws passed by states to protect health and safety and the economy.

2006 – Tamaqua, PA becomes first government on earth to recognize legally enforcable rights for ecosystems

Section 7.6 of the ordinance:” It shall be unlawful for any corporation, its directors, officers, owners, or managers to interfere with the existence and flourishing of natural communities or ecosystems, or to cause damage to those natural communities and ecosystems. The Borough of Tamaqua, along with any resident of the Borough, shall have standing to seek declaratory, injunctive, and compensatory relief for damages caused to natural communities and ecosystmes within the Borough, regardless of the relation of those natural communities and ecosystems to Borough residents or the Borough itself. Borough residents, natural communities, and ecosystems shall be considered to be ‘persons’ for purposes of the enforcement of the civil rights of those residents, natural communities, and ecosystems.”

September 20

1878 – Birth of Upton Sinclair, author and advocate of California economic cooperative program

While running for Governor in 1934, Sinclair proposed the End Poverty in California (EPIC) program. The plan called for the state takeover of foreclosed factories and farmland. The unemployed would be hired by the state to work in the factories and on the farms, with the goal of converting the facilities to worker-run democratic co-ops. The plan would have been paid for by instituting the first ever progressive state income tax, an increase on inheritance taxes and a tax on stock transfers. EPIC never came to fruition due to Sinclair’s defeat in the 1934 election, but is seen as an influence on New Deal programs enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

2019 – “Ronald Wright: Can We Still Dodge the Progress Trap?” online article published

“The failure of democratic governments to stand up for the greater good over the long run is fuelling disillusionment with democracy itself. There is something badly wrong with an economic regime in which 26 individuals own as much as half the world’s population. Such extreme disparity has never been seen before. Inequality is the main driver behind rising population and consumption. “

2019 – House of Representatives votes to ban forced arbitration

“Lawmakers voted 225-186 Friday to pass the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, a far-reaching bill that bans companies from requiring workers and consumers to resolve legal disputes in private arbitration — a quasi-legal forum with no judge, no jury, and practically no government oversight.’’

“’Arbitration is one of the central ways in which corporate America has rigged the system against middle class families, working people,’ Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said Friday on the House floor.”

September 21

1981 – The U.S. Senate confirmed Sandra Day O’Connor to be the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court

Her post-retirement comment following the 2010 Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court decision expanding the rights of individuals and corporate entities to make political campaign contributions: “Citizens United has signaled that the problem of campaign contributions in judicial elections might get considerably worse and quite soon.”

2009 – “The Rights of Corporations,” New York Times editorial

“The question at the heart of one of the biggest Supreme Court cases this year is simple: What constitutional rights should corporations have? To us, as well as many legal scholars, former justices and, indeed, drafters of the Constitution, the answer is that their rights should be quite limited — far less than those of people…

“The legal doctrine underlying this debate is known as “corporate personhood…

“Their influence would be overwhelming with the full array of rights that people have.

“One of the main areas where corporations’ rights have long been limited is politics. Polls suggest that Americans are worried about the influence that corporations already have with elected officials. The drive to give corporations more rights is coming from the court’s conservative bloc — a curious position given their often-proclaimed devotion to the text of the Constitution.

“The founders of this nation knew just what they were doing when they drew a line between legally created economic entities and living, breathing human beings. The court should stick to that line.”

2014 — Peoples Climate March in New York City

More than 300,000 people attended what was the largest march in history focused on climate destruction. Other actions occurred in other cities in the U.S. and around the world.

September 22

1862 – U.S. President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

It stated that all slaves held within rebel states would be free as of January 1, 1863

1919 – Beginning of the Great Steel Strike

During World War I, the federal government affirmed the right of workers to organize trade unions without interference by employers and established the National War Labor Board to implement the law and settle labor-management disputes. As a result, there were substantial gains for workers in wages and working conditions. This all changed when the war ended with corporate leaders and the government seeking to return labor-management conditions to “normal.” 

Steel workers went on strike beginning this day to protect and expand their economic gains and right to organize. As many as 365,000 steel workers took part during the 14 week-long strike. More than 4 million workers across the country went on strike during 1919 — 20% of the nation’s industrial workforce. It was at the time the largest wave of labor actions in U.S. history.

There was violence on both sides. This was used as a pretext by the government to labor strikers as dangerous radical foreign Bolsheviks — the first “red scare” intended to alienate workers from the public at large. It worked — by early January 1920, the strikers gave up and returned to work. 

September 23

1838 – Birth of Victoria Woodhull, American journalist, suffragette, and activist

Victoria Claflin Woodhull, later Victoria Woodhull Martin, in 1872 became the first woman to run for President of the United States.

2011 – “Corporate Tribalism Part 1: Legal Corporatism As A Version of Racism” blog posting

On the corporate perversion of the 14th Amendment…

“The intellectual movement here leads up to corporatism as the same kind of phenomenon as racism, and using what was supposed to be an anti-racist constitutional amendment as its vehicle. Racism includes discrimination based on race. If we look again at the quote above, we see how the court immediately confounds this with taxation of “property”, and proceeds to claim that discrimination based on economic function is the same thing as racial discrimination. (Never mind that taxing different actions differently isn’t “singular” or “strange” at all, and that all law discriminates in that sort of way. This fraudulent court knew that perfectly well, but had a different agenda here.

“Having equated economic entities, declared corporations “persons”, and invented this doctrine of total economic anti-discrimination, the court had implicitly rigged things to enable power, corporate prerogative, and the law itself to discriminate, as a practical matter, against human beings and on behalf of the profit prerogative. And so it has accelerated ever since.”

September 24

1837 – Birth of Mark Hanna, businessman, Ohio US Senator and campaign manager to President William McKinley

“There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money and I can’t remember what the second one is.”

September 25

1789 – US Bill of Rights sent to states for ratification

On this date, Congress transmitted to the state legislatures twelve proposed amendments, two of which, having to do with Congressional representation and Congressional pay, were not adopted. The remaining ten amendments became the Bill of Rights.

1971 – Death of Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black

In his dissent in Adamson v. People of the State of California, 332 U.S. 46 (1947), he summarized the history of judicial activism surrounding the Fourteenth Amendment. “It was aimed at restraining and checking the powers of wealth and privilege. It was to be a charter of liberty for human rights against property rights. The transformation has been rapid and complete. It operates today to protect the rights of property to the detriment of the rights of man. It has become the Magna Charta of accumulated and organized capital.”

He stated in his dissent in Connecticut General Life Ins. v. Johnson (1938): “I do not believe the word ‘person’ in the 14th Amendment includes corporations…[n]either the history nor the language of the Fourteenth Amendment justifies the belief that corporations are included within its protection.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: September 12 – 18

September 12

1806 – Death of Edward Thurlow, Lord Chancellor, Great Britain

“Did you ever expect a corporation to have a conscience, when it has no soul to be damned, and no body to be kicked?”

1876 – Birth of Elisabeth Freeman, suffragist and civil rights activist

Freeman took part in the national Suffrage Hike in 1913 to the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson in Washington, D.C. She wore a gypsy costume and drove a wagon stenciled with ‘Votes for Women’ slogans and piled with women’s suffrage literature as a publicity stunt for a New York City suffrage march.

Freeman was hired by the NAACP to investigate and report on the lynching of a man in Texas. Her report to W. E. B. Du Bois generated national attention over the outrage of lynching American citizens. The subsequent campaign helped establish the NAACP as a leading civil rights organization.

1880 – Birth of H.L Mencken, American Journalist

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace in a continual state of alarm (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

September 13

1785 – Pennsylvania Repeals the Charter of the Bank of North America

This was the nation’s first private commercial bank, chartered by Congress under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles gave Congress the power to “emit bills of credit” — to create money. By a single vote, Congress voted to transfer their authority to issue money to the Bank, thus, become a quasi central bank. The Pennsylvania legislature repealed the Bank’s charter, which was significant since it primarily operated in just three states. Why did Congress willingly give up their money power in the first place? The public argument was that the business of finance could not be ably conduced by a public body (Congress) — only by a small number of private financiers.

2019 –  “Big Business Lies Taught a Watchful Donald Trump” posted article by Ralph Nader

“Serious corporate deception is a common sales technique. At times it cost consumers more than dollars. It has led to major illness and loss of life…

“Interestingly, corporations can lie vigorously and not lose credibility. Artificial corporate personhood comes with immunity from social sanctions that apply to real human beings.”

September 14

1901 – U.S. President William McKinley died of gunshot wounds inflicted by an assassin

McKinley was elected President twice. Businessman Mark Hanna was his campaign manager both times. Hanna was arguably the first person to systematize Presidential fundraising on a large scale. His campaign for McKinley in 1896 consisted of asking banks and millionaires for contributions equal to 0.25% of their assets. McKinley far surpassed his opponent, William Jennings Bryan, in fundraising.

1940 – The Selective Service Act was passed by the U.S. Congress providing the first peacetime draft in the United States

September 15

1994 – “LETTER TO FRIENDS” by Richard L. Grossman & Ward Morehouse

“In July 1994 the leaders of 15 major environmental groups sent a joint letter to all their members saying: ‘…we have never faced such a serious threat to our environmental laws in Congress.  Polluters have blocked virtually all of our efforts to strengthen environmental laws. But still they are not satisfied.  Now, they are mounting an all-out effort to WEAKEN our most important environmental laws.’

“This week 173 citizens responded to the leaders of the “Big 15” with a letter of their own…

‘What prompts us to send this letter to you is our conviction that you have not identified those subverting Congress as our real adversaries in the struggle to save our communities and the natural world: the leaders of today’s giant corporations, and the powerful corporations they direct….

‘We believe the Earth has never before faced such large-scale devastation as is being inflicted by handfuls of executives running the largest 1000 or so industrial, financial, health, information, agricultural and other corporations.  And not since slavery was legal have the laws of the land been used so shamelessly to violate the democratic principles we hold dear… 

‘We believe that it is too late to counter corporate power by working environmental law by environmental law, or regulatory struggle by regulatory struggle.  We don’t have sufficient time or resources to organize chemical by chemical, forest by forest, river by river, permit by permit, technology by technology, product by product, corporate disaster by corporate disaster…

‘But if we curb or cut off corporate power at its source, all our work will become easier…’”

Published in Rachel’s Environmental Weekly (no. 407, September 15, 1994)

September 16

2000 – Publication this month of “Rumors of USA Democracy Counterfeit: Land of Plenty Run By and For Few” by Greg Coleridge, Richard Grossman, and Mary Zepernick

“Along with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, an enduring myth of our society is the belief that the United States is a democracy. We learn it in school and hear it all the time in our popular culture, especially during this and every election year. While it is true that people have significantly expanded justice, equality and opportunity since the nation’s founding, most such gains actually came about only as a result of great popular movements. At every step, these movements confronted a Constitution and government institutions arrayed against them, as do organizers for justice today.

“For six years, we in POCLAD have been talking and writing about the relentless corporate seizure of the people’s authority to govern. Over the past year we have focused on the undemocratic nature of the Constitutional Convention, the Constitution itself, and the subsequent denial of the people’s governing authority by federal courts and legislatures. It may be painful to say, ‘Uncle Sam has no clothes!’ Yet all the digging and grappling, the discussing and analyzing, point in this direction.”

September 17

1787 – U.S. Constitution signed by delegates at Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia

The supreme law of the land, the Constitution was a revolutionary document in that it vested ultimate power in We the People, , as well as for its doctrines of federalism and separation of powers.

Wealthy, white, property-owning men who were very interested in protecting their property, however, crafted the document, in secret. Slavery was legal – slaves were deemed 3/5ths of a person only to give Southern states greater political power. Women had virtually no rights, while indigenous people had none at all. The public forced the framers to add a Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments). The issue of voting rights, however, was left to the states. The words Democracy and Corporation were nowhere mentioned.

Further background:

1933 – Birth of Bill Moyer, author, “Doing Democracy: the MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements”

“Nonviolent social movements are based on the people power model. Not only is placing power in the hands of the people their ultimate goal, but they are also dependent on the power of the people to create social change. The strategy in a social movement is to mobilize ever-larger numbers of ordinary citizens to assert their power and influence on the corporate and state institutions and also to create alternatives themselves.”

Moyer’s 8 stages of successful movements critical for activists to understand:

2011 – Occupy Wall Street begins

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was a protest movement that began in Zuccotti Park in the Wall Street district of New York City. It was inspired by anti-austerity protests in Europe and the Middle East and has inspired movements for democracy around the world, including the current Nuit debout social movement in France. Hundreds of communities in the U.S. had their own Occupy movements, most involving physical encampments in public places, general assemblies involving consensus-based decision-making and direct action (both legal and illegal) over elections or lobbying. 

The main issues raised by Occupy Wall Street were corruption, greed, the hijacking of government by corporations (especially banks and other financial institutions) and social and economic inequality (captured by the slogan “We are the 99%”).

September 18

1850 – Passage of the Fugitive Slave Act

The 1793 and 1850 Fugitive Slave Acts reinforced the constitutionally enshrined property rights of slave owners. The 1850 Act pas part of the “Compromise of 1850” which forced citizens to assist in the capture of runaway slaves. Public monies were used to pay federal marshals for each captured slave under the Acts. Captured slaves were prohibited any jury trial and from testifying at any hearing held under the Acts.

1913 – U.S. House of Representatives passes the Federal Reserve Act

The effort to create a privately beholden (but promoted as publicly controlled and accountable) central bank moved one step closer to reality with passage by the House. Debate now turned to the Senate.

2014 – Scientific study concludes U.S. is an oligarchy, not a democracy

Researchers from Princeton University and Northwestern University concluded in a study published in the fall, “Testing Theories of American Politics,” that the U.S. is a government ruled by the rich more than by We the People. The study analyzed 1,779 policy issues from 1981-2002 – years before the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions were handed down.

From their report:

“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened…When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: September 5 – 11

September 5

1964 – Death of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, labor leader, activist, and feminist

“History has a long-range perspective. It ultimately passes stern judgment on tyrants and vindicates those who fought, suffered, were imprisoned, and died for human freedom, against political oppression and economic slavery.”

2017 – “Wall Street Is the Most Dangerous Example of Corporate Domination” posted article

“What is fascinating to us is that so few American journalists have adequately expanded on the seminal work of Senator Bernie Sanders to enlighten the public during last year’s presidential primary race to the fact that Wall Street is to concentrated and perverted corporate power what Hurricane Harvey is to a water main break. No other industry in America even comes close…

“In January of this year, the GAO provided further research on the financial relief provided to real human beings in America. The GAO study showed that as of October 31, 2016, the government “had disbursed $22.6 billion (60 percent) of the $37.51 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds” that were directed at helping distressed homeowners who were impacted by the 2008 Wall Street financial crash and resulting housing bust. Compare that miserly gesture to the $7.8 trillion in near-zero interest loans that the Federal Reserve secretly funneled to just four Wall Street banks from 2007 to 2010: $2.5 trillion to Citigroup; $2 trillion to Morgan Stanley; $1.9 trillion to Merrill Lynch; and $1.3 trillion to Bank of America.

“Not only did Wall Street get bailed out and the public sold out, but its power became more concentrated as the most powerful banks were allowed to gobble up other collapsing big banks with financial assistance from the Federal Reserve. Not only did Wall Street get bailed out but its titans never saw a day of jail time. No attempt at prosecution was even made. According to the PBS program Frontline, there was not even a pretense of investigating the head honchos on Wall Street by the U.S. Justice Department: “there were no investigations going on. There were no subpoenas, no document reviews, no wiretaps.”

2022 – Labor Day in the United States

President Grover Cleveland declared the first Labor Day day in 1894. It was designed in large part to distract awareness from and break solidarity of U.S. workers from May Day, the radical labor holiday that was celebrated around the world and first celebrated in the U.S.

September 6

1789 – Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison

“Indenturing the Future to the Past

“In 1789, the year the Federalists’ Constitution was ratified without a Bill of Rights, Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison that “I set out on this ground which I suppose to be self evident, ‘that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living;’ Then no man can, by natural right, oblige the lands he occupied, or the persons who succeed him in that occupation, to the payment of debts contracted by him. For if he could, he might, during his own life, eat up the usufruct of the lands for several generations to come, and then the lands would belong to the dead, and not to the living, which would be the reverse of our principle.”

[Note: “Usufruct” is a legal right accorded to a person or party that confers the temporary right to use and derive income or benefit from someone else’s property.]

2019 – “The Supreme Court has become just another arm of the GOP” posted article

“…From 2005 through the fall term of 2018, the Roberts court issued 73  5-to-4 partisan decisions benefiting big Republican donor interests: allowing corporations to spend unlimited money in elections; hobbling pollution regulations; enabling attacks on minority voting rights; curtailing labor’s right to organize; denying workers the ability to challenge employers in court; and, of course, expanding the NRA’s gun rights ‘project.’ It’s a pattern.

“Of course, in other decisions during that period, such as the 2015 same-sex marriage ruling, a Republican appointed justice joined the liberals. But in its run of 73 partisan 5-to-4 cases, the Republican majority routinely broke traditionally conservative legal principles, such as respect for precedent or ‘originalist’ reading of the Constitution. They even went on remarkable fact-finding expeditions, violating traditions of appellate adjudication.”

2012 – Publication of the article “How A Republican Appeals Court Just Made Citizens United Even Worse” by Ian Hillhiser

“One of the few silver linings on the Supreme Court’s election-buying decision in Citizens United was its holding that — although corporations are now free to spend as much money as they want to elect their preferred candidates — such spending could still be subject to disclosure laws so long as those laws bear a “substantial relation” to “‘providing the electorate with information’ about the sources of election-related spending.” The most Republican federal court of appeals in the country just wiped away much of this silver lining, however, striking down a Minnesota law requiring corporations seeking to buy elections to register their political fund and make regular public disclosures of its activities.”

September 7

1873 – Birth of Carl Becker, historian

“Corporations have at different times been so far unable to distinguish freedom of speech from freedom of lying that their freedom has to be curbed.”

2021 – “So you want to go to work for a large corporate law firm…” By Ralph Nader

“…Maybe you should find out more about them than they are willing to tell you…

“Decade after decade, teams of corporate lawyers have fought for the tobacco, drug, chemical, banking, insurance, nuclear, coal, oil, and hospital industries in direct conflict with consumer, worker and environmental health and safety. The billings are impressively large with mostly uncontested padding or fraud. Under the cover of “every client deserves a lawyer,” the extraordinary lengths these attorneys go to in fealty to national or global corporations receive almost no media or governmental scrutiny. That people are dying, being injured, sickened or defrauded, before and after private or public legal actions are instituted, provides little or no sense of remorse by these law firms. Protecting people is not usually considered their professional or moral responsibility, especially in an adversarial system in which corporate interests have all the advantages. They have perfected the gaming of the adversary system, should there be one, through deliberate wars of attrition, overwhelmingly superior resources and the fact that for aggrieved plaintiffs with bills to pay, time is more of the essence than it is for an artificial corporate entity and its deductible legal expenses.

2021 – “Just taking orders” song by Caitlin Johnstone

“They took your art away

They took your joy away

They took your wonder away

But who is ‘they?’

We are ‘they’

We are all someone’s ‘they’

So scared of shame

So scared of disappointment

We give up our will holding on

To the just world fallacy

That if we only choose

The right voice to listen to

Then we’ll make it out of here alive

So we hand over hand over hand over hand

Our authority

So we hand over hand over hand over hand

All that is real about me

We deify corporate entities…”

Rest of song at

September 8

1941 – Birth of Bernie Sanders, Vermont Senator and 2016 Presidential Candidate

“Congress does not regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress.”

2014 – “Citizens Divided: Corporate Money, Speech, and Politics” debate

Indiana University in Bloomington hosts a public debate between David Cobb of Move to Amend’s National Leadership Team and James Bopp, General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech and lead attorney for Citizens United.

Watch the debate at

2021 – “Imaginal Cells of the Solidarity Economy” posted article by Emily Kawano

“The discovery of imaginal cells, or discs, goes back to the 1600s, but the metaphor of imaginal cells was popularized by Norie Huddle in her 1990 book Butterfly. The story of a butterfly’s metamorphosis provides a lovely and useful metaphor for the metamorphosis from a system of capitalism to a postcapitalist system: the solidarity economy (SE)…

“The rich foundation of solidarity economy practices are like imaginal cells. Currently, they are in the equivalent of a dormant stage within the caterpillar of capitalism. However, the convergent crises of the pandemic, climate change, the racism and violence that have sparked the widespread racial justice uprisings, the economic divide, and the alarming slide toward fascism also create opportunity. People’s faith in the status quo is shaken. There’s a growing openness to new narratives, new models, and new paradigms. In this context, many of the solidarity economy’s imaginal cells are shaking off their dormancy, awakening to a different vision of becoming.”

September 9

2009 – Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on corporate constitutional rights

In hearing arguments during a special session of the court in the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission case, she said,

“What you are suggesting is that the courts, who created corporations as persons, gave birth to corporations as persons, and there could be an argument made that that was the Court’s error to start with … [imbuing] a creature of State law with human characteristics.”

2009 – Publication this month of the article “When Will Your Neighbor Join the Movement?” by Megan Wade

“All good philosophers know that a good answer is only a new question in disguise…Hiding in a description of how people join and build movements is the question of how to make that happen today. How are we – especially those of us in the movement for radical democracy – creating opportunities for people to meet their needs in empowering, democratic, and community-building ways? How are we training them and making sure meaningful actions are ready and waiting? How can we help ourselves and those around us acquire individual self-respect and collective self-confidence?”

2020 – “Health Care Lobby Tries To Buy Corporate Immunity From Both Parties” posted article

“In April, the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) drafted the original provision shielding health care industry officials from COVID-related lawsuits, and pushed it through the New York legislature with the support of Cuomo, whose political machine received more than $1 million from the group. Opponents charged that the law repealed a critical deterrent to corporate misbehavior and effectively rewarded executives at nursing homes where thousands of elderly residents were killed by the coronavirus.”

September 10

1979 – Birth of Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, former National Director, Move to Amend

“Logic, common sense, street smarts, whatever you want to call it, any thinking person can look around and tell you that corporations aren’t people and that spending money buying media is a helluva lot different than free political speech. But our Constitution says different, thanks to decades of corporations and their owners chipping away at it through litigation and legislation, making legal–making real–the corporate person with human rights. Corporate First Amendment rights are just the tip of the blade the 1% are wielding to destroy our democracy and secure their wealth, for generations to come. The corporation, a “legal fiction,” also has 4th, 5th, 7th and 14th Amendment rights along with a special rights carved out in the Commerce clause.

“When a judge peers over the bench, he sees the corporate charter as a person with constitutional rights, pretty much the same as you or me. There is no distinction between flesh and paper, blood and ink, animation or object, mortality and immortality. The only way to correct his vision, and the vision of our elected officials, is to legally establish that corporations are not people with constitutional rights, and that money is not protected political speech and can be regulated in campaigns. Corporations can flourish governed by state sanctioned privileges, as they did before they got greedy and started rewriting our Constitution, over 130 years ago. “

1998 – Petition filed calling on the attorney general (AG) of California to revoke the charter of Union Oil of California (Unocal)

”We’re letting the people of California in on a well-kept secret,” said lead attorney Robert Benson. ”The people mistakenly assume that we have to try to control these giant corporate repeat offenders one toxic spill at a time, one layoff at a time, one human rights violation at a time. But the law has always allowed the attorney general to go to court to simply dissolve a corporation for wrongdoing and sell its assets to others who will operate in the public interest.”

“[T]he law has always allowed the attorney general to go to court to simply dissolve a corporation for wrongdoing….Baseball players and convicted individuals in California get only three strikes. Why should big corporations get endless strikes?”

2002 – National Security Entry Exit Registration System program goes into effect

“NSEERS” mandates that all nationals over the age of 15 from 25 specific countries—all of them Arab or Muslim apart from North Korea—report to the government to be finger-printed, photographed, and questioned as part of a “Special Registration” program. People were given no individual notice of these requirements, but if they failed to register they could be deported or charged with criminal offenses.

2003 – Release of the film “The Corporation”

“The documentary shows the development of the contemporary business corporation, from a legal entity that originated as a government-chartered institution meant to affect specific public functions to the rise of the modern commercial institution entitled to most of the legal rights of a person. The documentary concentrates mostly upon North American corporations, especially those in the United States. One theme is its assessment of corporations as persons, as a result of an 1886 case in the United States Supreme Court in which a statement by Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite led to corporations as ‘persons’ having the same rights as human beings, based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

2020 – “‘Every City Council Should Follow Suit’: Portland, Oregon Becomes First US City to Ban Corporate Use of Facial Recognition Surveillance” posted article

“‘This is an exciting opportunity to set a national example by protecting the right of privacy of our community members, especially our most vulnerable and over-policed members,’ Hardesty wrote in a series of tweets Wednesday. ‘I refuse to sit back and watch our right to privacy and our civil rights be stripped away so that corporations can make more money.'”

September 11

1940 –  Address at Teamsters Union Convention by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“No business is above Government; and Government must be empowered to deal adequately with any business that tries to rise above Government.”

2001 – First complete version of Timeline of Personhood Rights and Powers publicly unveiled

The timeline was developed by Jan Edwards of Point Arena, CA. She led the effort to pass the first-ever municipal resolution to end corporate personhood in 2000.

The Timeline is a useful education tool to describe how corporations have used the legal system to gain constitutional rights through court decisions and how people have organized to gain constitutional rights through amendments and laws.

The Timeline was first used by Jan and others in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and later by democracy activists across the country to engage individuals in understanding issues that were not discussed in schools, media, places of worship, workplaces, political arenas or activist organizations.


“”(A)nyone can confer legal personhood on an autonomous computer algorithm merely by putting it in control of a limited liability company (LLC). The algorithm can exercise the rights of the entity, making them effectively rights of the algorithm. The rights of such an algorithmic entity (AE) would include the rights to privacy, to own property, to enter into contracts, to be represented by counsel, to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, to equal protection of the laws, to speak freely, and perhaps even to spend money on political campaigns. Once an algorithm had such rights, Bayern observed, it would also have the power to confer equivalent rights on other algorithms by forming additional entities and putting those algorithms in control of them.”

[Note: Actually, this is all the more reason to abolish all corporate constitutional rights via the We the People Amendment, HJR 48]

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: August 29 – September 4

August 29

1786 – Shays’ Rebellion breaks out in western Massachusetts; debtor farmers try to prevent foreclosure of their mortgages  

Shays‍ ’​ Rebellion was an armed uprising in Massachusetts during 1786 and 1787 led by Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays. Four thousand rebels (called Shaysites) rose up against perceived economic injustices (home foreclosures, bankruptcies, land seizures) by Massachusetts, but also against faraway elite rule, government corruption and regressive tax policies.

1936 – Birth of U.S. Senator and former Republican candidate for President John McCain

He called the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, “the most misguided, naive, uninformed, egregious decision of the United States Supreme Court I think in the 21st century.”

2017 — “Basically every problem in the US economy is because companies have too much power, new research argues” published article

“If De Loecker and Eeckhout are right that market power is increasing, this has significant downsides. The most profitable thing for a company with market power to do is make less of their product and increase the price—akin to what the OPEC cartel does thanks to its power in the oil market. Reduced production means fewer workers are needed and more of revenue goes to owners instead of labor.”


“The emails depict the chamber’s environmental policy director requesting a last-minute meeting with state Rep. Jim Hoops to discuss the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, the newly minted ballot initiative allowing citizens to sue polluters on behalf of Lake Erie. A legislative aide responded quickly, scheduling a same-day meeting. Despite the chamber director’s admission that his proposal would need to be submitted after the legislature’s deadline, the aide produced draft amendment language to share with him three weeks later. The chamber’s subsequent revisions made their way into the final bill, effectively nullifying the Lake Erie Bill of Rights.”

August 30      

1944 – Birth of Molly Ivins, American newspaper columnist, author, political commentator, and humorist

“It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our constitution to everyone in America.”

August 31  

1910 – Theodore Roosevelt  “New Nationalism” Speech Delivered at the Dedication of the John Brown Memorial Park in Osawatomie, Kansas

“The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man’s making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have called into being.

“There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done.”

2015 – “Awkward! The idea of ‘corporate personhood’ relies on the same Amendment that gives birthright citizenship” article by Mark Ames

“[M]ost of the GOP candidates want to change the 14th Amendment to deny birthright citizenship to children born here to foreign parents…

“But beyond the twisted racist dementia fueling this, there’s another problem for these GOP candidates: Section One of the 14th Amendment, granting birthright citizenship to anyone born in the US, is also the same section of the same amendment interpreted by our courts to grant corporations “personhood”…

“So to repeat: GOP candidates from Trump and Bush down the line to Silicon Valley’s boy-disrupter Rand Paul want to revoke citizenship to living humans born in the US to foreign parents; but they support granting citizenship rights and guarantees to artificial persons –corporations – which are really legal fictions granted by the states, allowing a pool of investors legal liability and tax advantages in order to profit more than they otherwise would as mere living humans”…

“And here we are today—where we have an Amendment meant to protect vulnerable and abused minorities now under attack from Lincoln’s party, who at the same time want to use the same section in the same amendment to protect fictitious artificial persons and allow them greater rights and powers than even those of us born here to American parents.”

September 1

1868 – Birth of Frank McKinney Hubbard, American cartoonist, humorist, and journalist better known by his pen name “Kin” Hubbard

“If the government was as afraid of disturbing the consumer as it is of disturbing business, this would be some democracy.”

2005 – Publication of Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke

The book describes “how, contrary to received wisdom, water mainly flows uphill to the wealthy. Our most basic resource may one day be limited: our consumption doubles every twenty years—twice the rate of population increase. At the same time, increasingly transnational corporations are plotting to control the world’s dwindling water supply. In England and France, where water has already been privatized, rates have soared, and water shortages have been severe. The major bottled-water producers—Perrier, Evian, Naya, and now Coca-Cola and PepsiCo—are part of one of the fastest-growing and least-regulated industries, buying up freshwater rights and drying up crucial supplies.”

2021 – Posted online article, “Labor Day” by Move to Amend

“Labor Day is a terrific opportunity for Move to Amenders to make personal and issue connections with members of Labor Unions…

“Many fundamental rights and protections of working people (e.g. the weekend, 8-hour workday, collective bargaining, end of child labor, employer-based health coverage, workplace safety) came into being because working people organized powerful movements that created positive change.

“While Move to Amend is also organizing a powerful movement to create real change (i.e. a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate rights and money considered free speech), connecting with labor unions and the working people they represent makes perfect strategic sense…

“How to Build Solidarity with Unions this Labor Day…”

September 2

1885 – Rock Springs massacre

One hundred and fifty white miners in Wyoming, struggling to unionize so they could strike for better wages and work conditions, attack their Chinese fellow workers. Twenty-eight were killed, 15 wounded, and hundreds more were forced out of town.

Racism once again became an enemy to solidarity and justice.

1975 – Death of Mabel Vernon, U.S. suffragist, pacifist, and a national leader in the United States suffrage movement

Vernon was a Quaker and a member of the American Woman Suffrage Association. Inspired by the tactics of the Women’s Social and Political Union in Britain, she helped organize many public actions for women’s suffrage, including the “Silent Sentinels” — protests that involved daily picketing of Woodrow Wilson’s White House urging his support for the 19th Amendment.

September 3

2005 – Death of Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist

In a dissenting opinion in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765, 822 (1978), he stated:

 “A State grants to a business corporation the blessings of potentially perpetual life and limited liability to enhance its efficiency as an economic entity. It might reasonably be concluded that those properties, so beneficial in the economic sphere, pose special dangers in the political sphere.

“Furthermore, it might be argued that liberties of political expression are not at all necessary to effectuate the purposes for which States permit commercial corporations to exist….

“I would think that any particular form of organization upon which the State confers special privileges or immunities different from those of natural persons would be subject to like regulation, whether the organization is a labor union, a partnership, a trade association, or a corporation.”

Note: Rehnquist was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Richard Nixon and to be its Chief Justice by President Ronald Reagan.


“That’s less than the chairs of exclusive committees have to chip in. Those four — Richard Neal, chair of Ways and Means; Frank Pallone, chair of Energy and Commerce; Nita Lowey, chair of Appropriations; and Maxine Waters, chair of Financial Services — owe $600,000 each for their gavels…

“On those so-called money committees, like Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce, even freshman members are asked to pay higher dues. That’s because those committees have jurisdiction over effectively every major industry, giving members a leg-up in demanding checks from corporations who need — or oppose — legislation before the panel. It is also valuable for industries to have committee members write letters to agencies they oversee.”

September 4

1957 – Arkansas governor calls out National Guard to prevent school integration

In the name of “Preserving the Peace,” Orval Faubus, governor of Arkansas, called in the National Guard to prevent African American students from enrolling in Little Rock’s Central High School. The action was a challenge to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling that racial segregation of schools was unconstitutional.  Reacting to the use of Guard to back the court-ordered integration, President Eisenhower federalized the entire Arkansas National Guard and used it to protect the nine black students who entered the school.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: August 22 – 28

August 22      

2012 — System for Public Financing of Elections Proposal announced

Democracy 21 and the Brennan Center issue a report and propose a new system for financing federal elections. The proposed system is based on empowering citizens in the political process by matching up to $250 of a citizen’s contribution with public funds at a 5 to 1 ratio.

Besides the financial strain on public budgets, this proposal does not address the ongoing constitutional “money equals speech” doctrine, nor does it call for an end to corporate constitutional rights (including the 1st Amendment “free speech” right to make political donations).

2018 – “Society Is Made Of Narrative. Realizing This Is Awakening From The Matrix” posted online article

“The exact same thing remains true today; the only thing that has changed is the narratives the public subscribe to. Because of what they are taught in school and what the talking heads on their screens tell them about their nation and their government, most people believe that they live in a relatively free democracy where accountable, temporary power is placed in the hands of a select few based on a voting process informed by the unregulated debate of information and ideas. Completely separate from the government, they believe, is an economy whose behavior is determined by the supply and demand of consumers. In reality, economics, commerce and government are fully controlled by an elite class of plutocrats, who also happen to own the media corporations which broadcast the information about the world onto people’s screens…

“But it is possible to wake up from that narrative Matrix…

“And you will set to work waking up humanity from the lie factory, using whatever skills you have, weakening trust in the mass media propaganda machine and opening eyes to new possibilities. And while doing so, you will naturally shine big and bright so the others can find you. And together, we’ll not only smash the narratives that imprison us like a human caterpillar swallowing the narrative bullshit and forcing it into the mouth of the next slave, but we’ll also create new narratives, better narratives, healthier narratives, for ourselves and for each other, about how the world is and what we want it to be.”

2019 — ‘Farmers Need a Bill of Rights” article published

“Besides a fair income, just like other workers, the Farmers Bill of Rights seeks to guarantee farmers fair and open markets that are not dominated by a handful of corporations. It also promotes access to local supply stores, mechanics, and processing facilities. The proposal also intends to assure the provision of credit to women, beginning, immigrant, and minority farmers, while pushing for reasonable environmental standards for all rural people. Moreover, the proposition includes the right to transparent and accurate enforcement of production practices, including organic and country of origin labeling, as well as the right to repair our own equipment rather than being forced to pay corporations that feel they still “own” the rights to what we purchase.”

2019 –  “How to Become a Corporate CEO Scam Artist in Five Easy Steps: And how to stop it in five more” posted online article

“First: They made sure their companies began paying their executives in shares of stock.

“Second: They directed their companies to lobby Congress for giant corporate tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks.

“Third: They used most of the savings from these tax cuts and rollbacks not to raise worker pay or to invest in the future, but to buy back the corporation’s outstanding shares of stock.

“Fourth: This automatically drove up the price of the remaining shares of stock.

“Fifth and finally: Since CEOs are paid mainly in shares of stock, CEO pay soared while typical workers were left in the dust.

“How to stop this scandal? Five ways:…

“5. Finally, and most basically: Stop CEOs from corrupting American politics with big money. Get big money out of our democracy. Fight for campaign finance reform.”

August 23

2011 – Missoula, MT City Council votes to place a “corporations are not human beings” referendum on the 2011 ballot

Specifically, the referendum urged federal and state lawmakers to amend the U.S. Constitution to clearly state “that corporations are not human beings and do not have the same rights as citizens.”

On November 8, 2011, Missoula voters approved the ballot referendum by a three to one margin.

2020 – “As McConnell Tees Up Next Aid Package With Corporate Liability as ‘Red Line,’ Polluters Pushing to Secure Shield Against Covid-19 Lawsuits” posted article

“New lobby filings reveal that polluting industries have been working hard to secure legal protection from lawsuits stemming from the coronavirus pandemic—a shield from consequence that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly sees as a “red line” in including in the next Covid-19 aid package.”

[Note: Corporate liability provisions were not included in any pandemic relief bills due to intense public pressure and investigative media reports exposing the fallacies of the need for additional legal protections]

August 24      

1922 – Birth of Howard Zinn, Author, A People’s History of the United States

“The American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history. With a country so rich in natural resources, talent, and labor power the system can afford to distribute just enough wealth to just enough people to limit discontent to a troublesome minority. It is a country so powerful, so big, so pleasing to so many of its citizens that it can afford to give freedom of dissent to the small number who are not pleased. There is no system of control with more openings, apertures, leeways, flexibilities, rewards for the chosen, winning tickets in lotteries. There is none that disperses its controls more complexly through the voting system, the work situation, the church, the family, the school, the mass media–none more successful in mollifying opposition with reforms, isolating people from one another, creating patriotic loyalty.”

2011 – First national Democracy Convention, sponsored by Liberty Tree Foundation, is held in Madison, WI

“More than one conference, the Democracy Convention houses at least nine conferences under one roof. As the great progressive reformer Fighting Bob La Follette said, ‘democracy is a life,’ and ‘involves constant struggle’ in all sectors of society. With the Democracy Convention, we recognize the importance of each of these separate democracy struggles, as well as the need to unite them all in a common, deeply rooted, broad based, movement for democracy. THE DEMOCRACY CONVENTION: Nine conferences. One movement. Earth Democracy, Education Democracy, Economic Democracy, Constitutional Reform, Racial Equality, Media Democracy, Local Democracy, Representative Democracy, Democratizing Defense.”

August 25

1998 – Death of Lewis Powell  — writer of pro-corporate “Powell memo”

Attorney Lewis Powell in 1971 wrote a memo to the US Chamber of Commerce entitled, “Attack on American Free Enterprise System.” It called for a sustained, multiyear corporate campaign to use an “activist minded Supreme Court” to shape “social, economic and political change” to the advantage of corporations.  Powell was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court two months later. A new phase of judicial activism and “legal fabrication” followed, nurtured by numerous, well-funded pro-corporate think tanks and legal centers. The Supreme Court granted corporations several additional never-intended constitutional rights. These related to the right to speak and not to speak, leading to the overrule of democratically passed laws by states to protect health, safety and the economy.

2015 – “Now That We’re Talking About Citizenship, Let’s Revoke Corporate Personhood” article published by C. Robert Gibson

“Thanks to Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, the media is now entertaining discussion on the idea of revoking citizenship for human beings, to the point where the media is calculating the cost of these insane and unconstitutional proposals. If Trump wants to revoke the citizenship of people who are using up all of our resources and not paying taxes, and if the media really wants to have the conversation, let’s start with multinational corporations…

“A constitutional amendment that explicitly states that corporations aren’t people, and that money is not speech would do the trick. The organization Move to Amend is doing just that, and have roughly 535 resolutions that have either been passed at the local/state level or are currently in progress. State legislatures in Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, Vermont, and West Virginia have already passed such resolutions.

“Donald Trump has been able to shift the Overton Window of acceptable political discourse far to the right in just a matter of weeks, to where the media is now entertaining discussion on the idea of revoking citizenship for human beings. The left must be just as willing to push the discussion toward revoking corporate citizenship due to the harm they’ve caused to our political process, as well as our public programs that have been slashed to the bone due to corporations avoiding billions in taxes.”

2018 — “Rebel” published online article

“You have been told that it is dangerous to trust yourself to move through life ungoverned by rules and authority and social pressures, but it isn’t dangerous. Rules and authority and social pressures are what got us to this point, and now we’re staring into the abyss of extinction because of them. Rules and authority and social pressures are what’s dangerous. Living authentically is safety. Once you move past all the voices telling you you mustn’t and you shouldn’t, you will find that your own inner truth is so much wiser and healthier than society’s dead ideas about how we all ought to live.”

2019 – “Tapping Into People Power: We have more power than we think” online posted article

“Beyond protests and petitions, there are hundreds of ways to work for change. Here are seven ways we can connect to the power of removing our consent and cooperation, refusing to go along with injustice, and intervening in the destructive practices that cause harm.  I’ve included several examples in each section…

“Pocketbook Power: Hollywood’s Brunei Boycott…

“Podium Power: Climate Crisis Commencement Speakers…

“Common Ground Power: Christians opposing Christian nationalism…

“Creative power: Artists withdraw works from Whitney Museum…

“Worker Power: Belfast “Titanic” shipyard workers occupy for green energy…

“City Power: Denver dumps private prison contracts…

“Block & Stop Power: Boats blockade against rising seas”

August 26                  

1970 – Women’s Strike for Equality on 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage

Organized by Betty Friedan and officially sponsored by NOW, 50,000 feminists paraded down New York City’s Fifth Avenue with linked arms, blocking the major thoroughfare during rush hour. Sister actions took place across the country. The original goal was a nationwide work stoppage of women, particularly those involved in domestic labor. The three policy objectives were: free abortion on demand, equal opportunity in employment and education, and the establishment of 24/7 childcare centers. The actions expanded and legitimized the women’s movement.

1998 – Letter by Richard Grossman on New York Times obituary of Lewis Powell published on this date

“The headline of the Times’ lengthy obituary of Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell labeled Powell a ‘Crucial Centrist Justice.’ But Justice Powell did not represent the ‘center’ when the issue was human and environmental rights in conflict with the market economy, or people in conflict with corporate privilege having proper access to the civil justice system…

“Where on the political spectrum did Mr. Justice Powell sit? Readers of The Times could have decided this for themselves if Linda Greenhouse had examined Powell as corporate ideologue, and had explored his role in helping the United States Supreme Court expand the privileges of business corporations while diluting the constitutional rights of people.”

Grossman co-founded the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD).

2015 – Donald Trump on money in elections      

“The fact is that whether it’s Jeb or Hillary or any of them, they’re all controlled by these people and the people that control them are the special interests, the lobbyists, and the donors.” [Note: …and that includes Donald].


“Several dark-money groups spent millions to replace key Republican state legislators in the spring of 2018, followed by a furious lobbying campaign to make sure those new lawmakers elected a new House speaker — one who was amenable to the subsidy. The nuclear industry in Ohio has been on the brink of failure for several years, but previous legislatures had objected to a bailout, reading the writing on the wall: Nuclear power is neither a cost-effective solution for power nor an effective response to climate change, despite hopes for its success.”

[Note: We now know (more of) the rest of the story about the $61 million bribery scheme by FirstEnergy corporation]

August 27      

1936 – Birth of Douglas Lummis, author of Radical Democracy

“The spirit of democracy appears now and then in history, at those moments when people fight for it. If you try to achieve democracy by waiting for it, you will wait forever.”

1963 – Death of W.E.B. DuBois, U.S. sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, and editor        

“Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln, and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let’s vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible.”

“It cannot be reconciled with any philosophy of democracy that 50,000,000 white folk of the British Empire should be able to make the destiny of 450,000,000 yellow, brown and black people a matter of solely their own internal decision.”

2020 – “Revealed: oil giants help fund powerful police groups in top US cities” posted online

“Big corporations accused of driving environmental and health inequalities in black and brown communities through toxic and climate-changing pollution are also funding powerful police groups in major US cities, according to a new investigation…

“Financial institutions – public-facing banks, insurance companies and asset managers – are also some of the biggest sponsors of police foundations.”

August 28

1963 – Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech at the culmination of the March on Washington, D.C.

 “In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

“Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”

2020 – “Our Healthcare Crisis is a Democracy Crisis” online posting

“…Medicare for All has skyrocketed in popularity…

“Yet, somehow only a minority of our Reps and Senators are representing this political will and fighting for healthcare justice. During a grossly mismanaged pandemic, and on the precipice of a depression. We are told it’s not “politically possible” because of lack of congressional support but…why? How could that be, when their JOB is to represent us? That is precisely what they get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to do — represent us…

“We must DEMAND Medicare for All.

“We also must DEMAND the #WeThePeopleAmendment. Because the doctrine of “Money is Free Speech” means that the insurance and pharmaceutical industries can out-spend us in elections, and turn our own government against us. And the doctrine “Corporations Are People” (in the eyes of the Constitution), it means that even if Medicare for All passes, these corporations can sue and gut the legislation, claiming their “constitutional rights” (which include making profit) are being violated.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: August 15 – 21

August 15      

1935 – Death of Will Rogers          

“The business of government is to keep the government out of business, that is, unless business needs government aid.”

1947 – Indian Independence Day

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of Independence of India from the British Empire. It was achieved largely through a non-violent movement of civil resistance that involved millions of people over many years. Civil resistance is based on the principle that any government cannot continue to function if large numbers of people nonviolently refuse to cooperate with its laws and in strategic instances risk arrest by actively resisting the functioning of society. Only roughly 3.5% of the population, however, need to be actively involved for campaigns to be successful.

August 16

2014 – “California Supreme Court Nixes Corporate Personhood ‘Advisory Measure’ From November Ballot” published article

“[T]he unusual ‘advisory measure’ was placed on the ballot very recently by the California state legislature. It called for Congress to ‘propose an amendment…to the United States Constitution” to overturn the infamous Citizens United decision and its progeny, and “to make clear that the rights protected by the United States Constitution are the rights of natural persons only.’

“But now, the state Supreme Court in California, dominated by 5 Republican appointees and 1 Democratic appointee, has intervened to remove the measure from this year’s general election ballot…”

The High Court said it needs more time to consider whether the advisory measure should be placed on a California ballot. 

[NOTE: A similar measure appeared on the November 2016 ballot in California, Proposition 59. It passed with 52% of the vote.]

August 17

1887 – Birth of Marcus Garvey, founder of the United Negro Improvement Association      

Founded in 1914 the UNIA became the largest pan-African organization ever established. By the early 1920s it had 700 branches in 38 states with millions of members.

2020 – “Building a Movement to Amend the Constitution: Lessons from Women’s Suffrage” posted article

And as with woman’s suffrage and all major social and political progress, those in power will not relinquish their control or authority willingly. They will try to divide, discredit, and hide the People’s movement. Another court challenge or lobbying the political parties, no matter how sound or logical the argument, will not result in the democratic change we seek. Direct action, grassroots networking, backed by a national outcry, and all the force and power of a united “We the People” is what will force the government to amend the constitution a 28th time to say corporations are not people and money is not speech.

August 18

1920 – States ratify Nineteenth Amendment, granting women suffrage throughout America

Women finally get the vote after 75 years of struggle. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.”

2014 – Publication (new edition) of “Corporations Are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy from Big Money and Global Corporations” by Jeffrey Clements

“The recent fabrication of  ‘corporate rights’ under the Constitution goes beyond elections and money in politics…

“The courts have used the fabrication of corporate rights, particularly corporate ‘speech,’ to strike down a wide range of commonsense laws in recent years, from those concerning clean and fair elections to environmental protection and energy to tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and health care to consumer protection, lotteries, and gambling to race relations and much more.”

[NOTE: Unfortunately, the organization led by Clements, American Promise, only supports ending a single “fabrication” of corporate rights – the one addressing elections and money in politics. All other fabrications of corporate rights would remain. This compares to Move to Amend’s We the People Amendment (HJR 48) which would abolish ALL fabricated corporate constitutional rights].

August 19                  

2003 – Federal District Court overturns S. Dakota “Amendment E” banning nonfamily farm-owned agribusinesses   

The federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 1998 state constitutional amendment voted by South Dakota citizens that banned non-family owned agribusiness corporations from owning farmland or engaging in farming. The American Farm Bureau Federation, agribusiness corporations, and other agribusiness interests had sued to overturn the law, charging that it violated the Commerce Clause. The Court agreed, arguing that the intent of the citizen initiative circulators was to eliminate corporations from agriculture.

2015 – Is This The Great Crash Of China? By Stephen Keen 

“Banks in the West effectively ignore what the government wants: in the West, the political class is effectively subservient to the financial class.”

2019 – Business Roundtable Redefines the Purpose of a Corporation to Promote ‘An Economy That Serves All Americans’

“Business Roundtable today announced the release of a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation signed by 181 CEOs who commit to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.”

[NOTE: The statement was clearly in response to not just the perception, but the reality that corporate entities are causing increasingly massive harms to people, communities and to the earth. The hope is that the group’s statement will reduce momentum for greater public regulation, if not authority, over the corporate form — which was the norm early in our nation’s history through the chartering process and before Supreme Court-invented corporate constitutional rights].

August 20

1619 – Slaves arrive for the first time in what would become the United States (Virginia)

We still haven’t come to terms with the impact of the human enslavement of some human beings by other human beings…and the need to make amends.

2014 – “Corporations are People. So What if People Were Corporations?” article published by Catherine Rampell

“Turns out corporations enjoy tons of rights and privileges that biological beings should be salivating over…

“The most obvious place to start is taxes. Companies save billions from loopholes that don’t apply to individuals — yet…

“If people were treated like corporations, perhaps we’d be able to ’merge’ with whomever we want without worrying about restrictive marriage laws…We could also choose to abide by the family law in whichever state we like best, regardless of where we live. Companies, after all, can incorporate in the jurisdiction with the most favorable corporate governance laws, regardless of where they operate,…That’s one reason Delaware is home to more businesses than people.

“But the best perk of being treated like an incorporeal corporation?

“Even if you killed someone, stole a house, funded a genocidal regime or terrorized the global economy, you wouldn’t go to jail. At worst, you’d pay a fine. Sure, you could be executed for your crimes — sort of — by having your charter revoked or by being driven to bankruptcy by onerous penalties, but you could always return from the dead with a different name but much of the same DNA. To err is human; to err and bounce back unscathed, you really need to be a company.”

August 21

1878 – American Bar Association established – proposes “Model Business Corporation Act”

The Model Business Corporation Act was proposed by the American Bar Association’s Section of Business Law, Committee on Corporate Law. By 2009, 31 states had adopted some version of the proposal, which gives corporate shareholders no responsibility for the acts or debts of the corporation they own. They can invest with only financial risk and no legal risk.

2011 – “The Kids Are Not All Right: Corporate Interests Threaten Children’s Welfare” New York Times article by Joel Bakan

“By the middle of the century, childhood was a robustly protected legal category. In 1959, the United Nations issued its Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Children were now legal persons; the “best interests of the child” became a touchstone for legal reform.

“But the 20th century also witnessed another momentous shift, one that would ultimately threaten the welfare of children: the rise of the for-profit corporation…

“A clash between these two newly created legal entities — children and corporations — was, perhaps, inevitable. Century-of-the-child reformers sought to resolve conflicts in favor of children. But over the last 30 years there has been a dramatic reversal: corporate interests now prevail. Deregulation, privatization, weak enforcement of existing regulations and legal and political resistance to new regulations have eroded our ability, as a society, to protect children.”

2019 — “No More Corporate Lawyers on the Federal Bench” article published

“The progressive Constitutional Accountability Center has calculated the Chamber of Commerce’s “win rate” before the Supreme Court, looking at the cases in which the business group has filed friend-of-the-Court briefs. Overall, since John Roberts became chief justice in 2005, the Court has sided with the chamber 70 percent of the time, substantially more often than during the tenures of Chief Justices Warren Burger and William Rehnquist.

“The Roberts Court has also embraced controversial legal theories, such as corporate personhood, that have helped big companies consolidate power…

“The combination of rising corporate power and eroding legal protections for workers and consumers has resulted in a system that empowers corporations to take advantage of individuals with near-impunity. This trend has fed the massive transfer of wealth and political power away from everyday Americans and toward large corporations and their shareholders.

“It would be a woefully insufficient response to this situation for Democrats to put forward nominees who, in many cases, helped develop this very body of jurisprudence during their time at major law firms.”

2019 – “Opinion: E-scooter firms silence injured riders’ legal claims” published article

“The Bay Area has become a hub for innovation, but some of the area’s most progressive and forward-thinking companies — such as the e-scooter startups — are relying on outdated legal tactics to silence those being hurt by their technology.

“What hasn’t gotten as much attention as electric bikes catching fire is that riders are learning — painfully — they may have little recourse against these private rental companies if they’re injured.

“The app’s ‘click-to-agree’ clauses — which can consume more than 250 cell phone screens to read fully — force users to settle all disputes through confidential binding arbitration, effectively giving up their constitutional right to have their disputes resolved in a jury trial…

“It’s a legal straitjacket — and the latest example of a disturbing trend in consumer, service and workplace agreements that exempt corporations and their chieftains from jury trials enshrined by the U.S. Constitution’s Seventh Amendment. Instead, consumers are required to pursue their claims through arbitration, in which corporations can choose the venue and the arbitrator, all while preventing potential class-action suits from arising.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: August 8 – 14

August 8        

1996 – International Dairy Foods Assn. v. Amestoy court decision

US Court of Appeals, Second Circuit overturns Vermont law requiring the labeling of all products containing bovine growth hormone. The right not to speak inheres in political and commercial speech alike and extends to statements of fact as well as statements of opinion.”

August 9        

1949 – Death of Edward Thorndike, U.S. psychologist   

“An adult who ceases after youth to unlearn and relearn his facts and to reconsider his opinions is a menace to a democratic community.”

2000 – Five Women arrested at Pentagon for “Act of Nonviolent Love” in Nagasaki protest at Pentagon

August 9 is the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. Nonviolent civil disobedience is a tactic to raise awareness of issues and problems and, if strategically done by sufficient numbers at the right time and place, can prevent or end unjust, violent or undemocratic actions by governments or corporations.

2013 – “Corporate Constitutional “Rights” Harm Small Business” by Laura Bonham article posted

“Time and again, large corporations have gone to court to assert their rights over the rights of small businesses. In nearly every case, the Court has sided with the large corporations…

“Small businesses find themselves in the same position when it comes to our First Amendment “right” to participate in the electoral process….

“Big corporations have used the Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection clauses to oppose tax and other public policies meant to protect local communities, and to bypass local planning codes designed to encourage small business and strengthen local economies in forcing construction of chain stores against the will of the community. They have used Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights to avoid subpoenas for unlawful trade and price fixing, and to prevent citizens, communities and regulatory agencies from stopping corporate pollution and other assaults on people or the commons.  Modern corporate personhood rights have deleterious effects on small businesses and the communities on which we depend.

“It is clear that when large corporations have special privileges of limited liability to protect commerce and inherent rights under the Constitution, those rights and privileges are used to smash the rights of the people, including the owners of small businesses. Small businesses would do well to get behind efforts to amend the Constitution to clearly state that corporations are not entitled to inherent human rights and that money is not protected political speech so we may enjoy, in the future, a more level playing field in which to do business. Learn more at and join me in endorsing this at

August 10

1943 – Birth of Richard Grossman, co-founder of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD,        

“Sovereignty is in our hands now…when the people running a corporation assume rights and powers which the sovereign had not bestowed or when they assault the sovereign people, this entity becomes an affront to our body politic. And like a cancer ravaging a human body, such a rebellious corporation must be cut out of our body politic. “

2013 – “For Freshmen in the House, Seats of Plenty” published article

“Representative Andy Barr, a Republican from Kentucky with little experience in the intricacies of Wall Street, was among the lucky House freshmen to secure a seat on the powerful Financial Services Committee.

“Now, half a year into his first term, he has emerged as a telling example of why the panel is sometimes called “the cash committee” — a place, critics say, where there are big incentives for freshmen to do special favors for the industry…

“One industry lobbyist, who asked not to be named because client matters are supposed to be confidential, said his political action committee was sizing up all of the Financial Services Committee freshmen as it tried to determine who could best help deliver on the industry’s agenda.

“’It is almost like investing in a first-round draft pick for the N.B.A. or N.F.L.,’ the lobbyist said. ‘There is potential there. So we make an investment, and we are hopeful that investment produces a return.’”

2020 – “The Undoing Of Illusions: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix” posted article

“All I’m ever writing about here is the undoing of illusions. The undoing of illusions about what’s happening in the world, the undoing of illusions about the media, the undoing of illusions about society, the undoing of illusions about ourselves. If you’re a lover of truth, it’s all the same to you.

“The world isn’t happening the way most people think it is happening. Maturity is learning and understanding the multifaceted, multi-leveled ways in which this is the case.”

August 11                  

1919 – Founding of the Green Bay Packers professional football team

The Green Bay Packers were founded by Curly Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun. The Packers are now the only publicly owned company with a board of directors in American professional sports. The private National Football League (NFL), in fact, will not allow community ownership of any other football team.

2011 – Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney on corporations and people

Famously declared on this date at the Iowa State Fair, “Corporations are people, my friend.”

August 12

1861 – “Proclamation 85—Proclaiming a Day of National Humiliation, Prayer, and Fasting” signed by President Abraham Lincoln

“Whereas when our own beloved country, once, by the blessing of God, united, prosperous, and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals to humble ourselves before Him and to pray for His mercy–to pray that we may be spared further punishment, though most justly deserved; that our arms may be blessed and made effectual for the reestablishment of law, order, and peace throughout the wide extent of our country; and that the inestimable boon of civil and religious liberty, earned under His guidance and blessing by the labors and sufferings of our fathers, may be restored in all its original excellence:”

[Note: We need another one of these today given the growing violence, injustices and intolerance toward one another and the earth that threatens, among many realities, the ability to create real democracy with prayer/reflection based on whatever religion or ethical conviction one follows.]

1890 –  “Tree That Owns Itself,” article in Athens Weekly Banner

“I, W. H. Jackson, of the county of Clarke, of the one part, and the oak tree … of the county of Clarke, of the other part: Witnesseth, That the said W. H. Jackson for and in consideration of the great affection which he bears said tree, and his great desire to see it protected has conveyed, and by these presents do convey unto the said oak tree entire possession of itself and of all land within eight feet [2.4 m] of it on all sides.”

“Can a tree have rights?

It might seem strange that a tree can own anything, let alone itself, but there is actually some legal precedent. Although they usually take a back seat to animal rights, plant rights have been discussed in several countries around the world.”

2014 – “New York Teachers Union Rips Corporate Ties of Common Core” article published

“Teachers are playing up the corporate ties behind the controversial Common Core K-12 standards for math and English. British company Pearson PLC has a $33 million contract with the state to administer the assessment tests in public schools; the company is also running teacher training tests.

“Public education, not private profits,” the crowd chanted, led by New York State United Teachers union president Karen E. Magee, according to the Times-Union.

“Magee said that teachers understand the needs of their students more than a testing company, and held up a copy of a contract with the state and Pearson and ripped it up as the crowd chanted, “shred it, shred it.”

2021 – “Meet the Censored: Paul Jay” posted interview

“Matt Taibbi: Is the result of this kind of censorship going to just drive audiences to big corporate news agencies? And if that’s the case, what can people do about that? What’s going to happen to alternative news, if there’s a double standard?

“Paul Jay: Let’s back up one step. Why do they allow alternative media? The financial class, the billionaire class, the state, and so on. Why is there even an alternative media in the United States? Because on the whole it’s marginal, and as long as it’s marginal, it’s acceptable. Because democracy in the United States, in my mind, it’s a complicated thing. There really is a kind of democracy, that’s mostly for elites.

“There’s a need to keep up a kind of facade of democracy. And maybe facade is too strong a word, because it’s not like there are no democratic rights. You still can go to a court, there is a jury, people can sue, they win sometimes, the odd progressive gets elected. There’s some there there, and it’s worth defending that, but there’s a facade that this democracy really allows dissenting voices. As long as they’re marginal, okay. So the more the big tech companies control this score, the better they can make sure that stuff stays marginal.”

August 13

1920 – Adoption of “Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World,” the Principles of the Universal Negro Improvement Association

 “After fighting World War I, ostensibly to defend democracy and the right of self-determination, thousands of African-American soldiers returned home to face intensified discrimination, segregation, and racial violence. Drawing on this frustration, Marcus Garvey attracted thousands of disillusioned black working-class and lower middle-class followers to his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).” 

Twenty-five thousand delegates from around the world attended the month-long convention in New York City, where this document was adopted.


“Be It Resolved, That the Negro people of the world, through their chosen representatives in convention assembled in Liberty Hall, in the City of New York and United States of America, from August 1 to August 31, in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and twenty, protest against the wrongs and injustices they are suffering at the hands of their white brethren, and state what they deem their fair and just rights, as well as the treatment they propose to demand of all men in the future.

“We complain:

“1. That nowhere in the world, with few exceptions, are black men accorded equal treatment with white men, although in the same situation and circumstances, but, on the contrary, are discriminated against and denied the common rights due to human beings for no other reason than their race and color.

We are not willingly accepted as guests in the public hotels and inns of the world for no other reason than our race and color.

“2. In certain parts of the United States of America our race is denied the right of public trial accorded to other races when accused of crime, but are lynched and burned by mobs, and such brutal and inhuman treatment is even practiced upon our women…

“4. In the southern portion of the United States of America, although citizens under the Federal Constitution, and in some States almost equal to the whites in population and are qualified land owners and taxpayers, we are, nevertheless, denied all voice in the making and administration of the laws and are taxed without representation by the State governments, and at the same time compelled to do military service in defense of the country.”

Full list of 54 complaints, demands and proclamations at

2015 – Don’t Be Fooled by the Political Game: The Illusion of Freedom in America, by John Whitehead, constitutional and human rights attorney

“Being a citizen in the American corporate state is much like playing against a stacked deck: you’re always going to lose.

“The game is rigged, and “we the people” keep getting dealt the same losing hand. Even so, most stay in the game, against all odds, trusting that their luck will change…

‘We are living in a fantasy world carefully crafted to resemble a representative democracy. It used to be that the cogs, wheels and gear shifts in our government machinery worked to keep our republic running smoothly. However, without our fully realizing it, the mechanism has changed. Its purpose is no longer to keep our republic running smoothly. To the contrary, this particular contraption’s purpose is to keep the corporate police state in power. Its various parts are already a corrupt part of the whole.”

2018 — “Ralph Nader, on Corporate Speech: The activist criticizes the A.C.L.U. for its support of corporate free speech,” letter to the editor

“A case can be made against regulations prohibiting companies from providing critical price information to consumers. But it has been difficult to understand why the A.C.L.U. supported the notorious Citizens United case with an amicus brief. Citizens United allows unlimited political contributions by corporations for or against candidates for elective office.

“More inexplicable was the group’s support for the carcinogenic tobacco industry’s advertisements as protected free speech.

“For decades the A.C.L.U. has fought for corporate personhood. Corporations are not people, Mr. Cole.”

August 14

1935 – Social Security Act enacted

This act provides old age insurance for the mostly White workforce of certain industries, excluding domestic and agricultural workers, who are mostly non-white.

1958 – Death of Mary Ritter Beard, U.S. historian

“At no time, at no place, in solemn convention assembled, through no chosen agents, had the American people officially proclaimed the United States to be a democracy. The Constitution did not contain the word or any word lending countenance to it, except possibly the mention of “We the people” in the preamble….When the Constitution was framed no respectable person called himself or herself a democrat.”

1995 – “A Call to Citizens: Will Real Populists Please Stand Up” article in Nation magazine by Ronnie Dugger, Alliance for Democracy co-founder         

“We are ruled by Big Business and Big Government as its paid hireling, and we know it. Corporate money is wrecking popular government in the United States. The big corporations and the centimillionaires and billionaires have taken daily control of our work, our pay, our housing, our health, our pension funds, our bank and saving deposits, our public lands, our airwaves, our elections and our very government. It’s as if American democracy has been bombed. Will we be able to recover ourselves and overcome the bombers? Or will they continue to divide us and will we continue to divide ourselves, according to our wounds and our alarms, until they have taken the country away from us for good?

 “Over 6000 people responded [to the article calling for the creation of an Alliance for Democracy], 2500 joined, and more than 55 local Alliances were formed nationwide. In late 1996 delegates from 30 states convened in Texas hill country and the Alliance for Democracy was founded.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: August 1 – 7

August 1                    

1999 – Publication of “Treatise on Constitutional Law: Substance and Procedure” by Ronald D. Rotunda and John E. Nowak           

The U.S. Supreme Court is “the most powerful court the world has ever known.” However, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions of WTO, NAFTA, TPP, TTIP and TISA can supersede decisions of the highest national courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and there is no appeal.

August 2

1923 – Death of former President, Warren G. Harding

Harding’s campaign promise: “Less government in business and more business in government.”

1924 – Birth of James Baldwin, Birth of James Baldwin, U.S. novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic

“Words like
 ‘freedom,’ ‘justice,’ and ‘democracy”’ are not common concepts;
 on the contrary, they are rare.
 People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous,
 and above all, individual effort 
to arrive at the respect for other people 
that these words imply.”

August 3

2016 – Death of former Republican Congressman Steven LaTourette from Ohio

“Politics is being directed by a bunch of rich people who you can count on two hands who have an inordinate impact of the direction of government.”

2019 – Opening reception of the Corporate Personhood art exhibit.

“Painter Ian Trout’s new exhibit Corporate Personhood is now on display at there-there gallery in Los Angeles. Trout’s exhibit skewers the infamous court cases Citizens United v. FEC (2010) and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014), which granted corporations unlimited political spending and allowed for-profit corporations to hold religious views (thereby allowing religious objection to covering contraceptives), respectively.

“The clever name of the show references Chief Justice Morrison Waite, who in 1886 claimed that corporations are considered persons, thus changing the inherent meaning of the 14th amendment to provide equal protections to “natural persons” as well as corporations. Trout cheekily explores what a “corporate person” could be in this exhibit, combining modernism, logos, and the body—a comment on the absurdity of this idea of corporate personhood.

[Note: Corporate constitutional rights (“corporate personhood” for short) was granted to corporations long before Citizens United]

August 4                    

1967 – Federation of Southern Cooperatives Chartered           

Five major civil rights organizations developed economic cooperatives throughout the South — mostly farming and supply and marketing co-ops, but also credit unions, housing co-ops and worker co-ops. The Federation still operates today – an example of economic democracy.

2009 – A Call to Democratize Money article published this month by Greg Coleridge

“Centuries before corporate ‘personhood’ rights, even [before] the US Constitution, a privileged few and their business corporations were usurping the power of sovereignty, of decision-making authority in one pivotal arena – with profoundly undemocratic, unjust, and violent consequences. That arena was, and is, the creation of money.

“The privatization or corporatization of money is not simply one more single-issue assault on the right of citizens to self-rule. Its profound impacts on economic and ecological systems are as consequential as those wrought by corporate constitutional rights and demand its separate understanding, analysis, and prescription.” Coleridge is a Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD) principal.  

August 5        

1876 – Birth of Mary Ritter Beard, historian and women’s rights movement activist

“At no time, at no place, in solemn convention assembled, through no chosen agents, had the American people officially proclaimed the United States to be a democracy. The Constitution did not contain the word or any word lending countenance to it, except possibly the mention of “We the people” in the preamble….When the Constitution was framed no respectable person called himself or herself a democrat.”

1934 – Birth of Wendell Berry, US novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer

“Though the corporations, by law, are counted as persons, they do not have personal minds, if they can be said to have minds. It is a great oddity that a corporation, which properly speaking has no self, is by definition selfish, responsible only to itself. This is an impersonal, abstract selfishness, limitlessly acquisitive, but unable to look so far ahead as to preserve its own sources and supplies. The selfishness of the fossil fuel industries by nature is self-annihilating; but so, always, has been the selfishness of the agribusiness corporations.”

“…we are no longer talking about theoretical alternatives to corporate rule. We are talking with practical urgency about an obvious need. Now the two great aims of industrialism—replacement of people by technology and concentration of wealth into the hands of a small plutocracy—seem close to fulfillment. At the same time the failures of industrialism have become too great and too dangerous to deny. Corporate industrialism itself has exposed the falsehood that it ever was inevitable or that it ever has given precedence to the common good. It has failed to sustain the health and stability of human society. Among its characteristic signs are destroyed communities, neighborhoods, families, small businesses, and small farms. It has failed just as conspicuously and more dangerously to conserve the wealth and health of nature. No amount of fiddling with capitalism to regulate and humanize it, no pointless rhetoric on the virtues of capitalism or socialism, no billions or trillions spent on ‘defense’ of the ‘American dream,’ can for long disguise this failure. The evidences of it are everywhere: eroded, wasted, or degraded soils; damaged or destroyed ecosystems; extinction of species; whole landscapes defaced, gouged, flooded, or blown up; pollution of the whole atmosphere and of the water cycle; ‘dead zones’ in the coastal waters; thoughtless squandering of fossil fuels and fossil waters, of mineable minerals and ores; natural health and beauty replaced by a heartless and sickening ugliness. Perhaps its greatest success is an astounding increase in the destructiveness, and therefore the profitability, of war.”

Wendell E. Berry Lecture, “IT ALL TURNS ON AFFECTION,”

August 6

1893 – Birth of Wright Patman, Chairperson of the U.S. House Committee on Banking & Currency – on power of banking corporations

“I have never yet had anyone who could, through the use of logic and reason, justify the Federal Government borrowing the use of its own money I believe the time will come when people will demand that this be changed. I believe the time will come in this country when they will actually blame you and me and everyone else connected with Congress for sitting idly by and permitting such an idiot system to continue.”

“The Constitution of the U.S. says that Congress shall coin money and regulate its value.  That does not mean that the Congress of the U.S., composed of the duly elected representatives of the people, have a right to farm out the great privilege to the banking system, until today a few powerful bankers control the issuance & distribution of money — something that the Constitution of the U.S. says Congress shall do.”      

1965 – Voting Rights Act signed by President Lyndon Johnson            

The landmark federal legislation prohibits racial discrimination in voting, passed during the height of the American Civil Rights Movement, and considered to be the most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever enacted in the U.S. The Act resulted in the mass enfranchisement of racial minorities in the South and across the country.

2020 – New York AG sues to dissolve the National Rifle Association

“The call to dissolve the organization was based on the scope and severity of the allegations, James said, ‘given the breadth and the depth of the corruption, the illegality, and the brazen attempts to basically evade the law’…

“’This state has been, I think, very generous and somewhat lax in the number of not-for-profits that we have granted, and they forget that they are taxpayer subsidized,’ he said. “They are receiving a public subsidy. For that public subsidy, there are rules.”

2020 – “The Unraveling of America” online article posted

Anthropologist Wade Davis on how COVID-19 signals the end of the American era

“More than any other country, the United States in the post-war era lionized the individual at the expense of community and family. It was the sociological equivalent of splitting the atom. What was gained in terms of mobility and personal freedom came at the expense of common purpose…

“But when all the old certainties are shown to be lies, when the promise of a good life for a working family is shattered as factories close and corporate leaders, growing wealthier by the day, ship jobs abroad, the social contract is irrevocably broken.”

August 7                    

1890 – Birth of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn   

“History has a long-range perspective. It ultimately passes stern judgment on tyrants and vindicates those who fought, suffered, were imprisoned, and died for human freedom, against political oppression and economic slavery.”

Flynn was a labor leader, activist, and feminist who played a leading role in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). She was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a visible proponent of women’s rights, birth control, and women’s suffrage

2013 – Second national Democracy Convention, sponsored by Liberty Tree Foundation, Madison, WI

A four day gathering, the Democracy Convention houses at least nine conferences under one roof. As the great progressive reformer Fighting Bob La Follette said, “democracy is a life,” and “involves constant struggle” in all sectors of society. The Democracy Convention recognizes the importance of each of these separate democracy struggles, as well as the need to unite them all in a common, deeply rooted, broad based, movement for democracy. Nine conferences–One movement: Earth Democracy, Education Democracy, Economic Democracy, Constitutional Reform, Race & Democracy, Media Democracy, Local Democracy, Representative Democracy, and Democratizing Defense.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: July 25 – 31

July 25

1876 – Birth of Congressman Lois T. McFadden (R-PA), Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee

“We have in this country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.  I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks.  Some people think the Federal Reserve Banks are U.S. government institutions.  They are private credit monopolies; domestic swindlers, rich and predatory money lenders which prey upon the people of the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers…The truth is the Federal Reserve Board has usurped the Government of the United States by the arrogant credit monopoly which operates the Federal Reserve Board.”

2001 — “Statement in support of Rainforest Action Network” by Mike Ferner

“We come to Chicago to declare that we support free speech rights for real people and their organizations, not for corporate persons and their organizations like the Center for Defense of Free Enterprise—and to warn that we can not have both. For when corporations wield the Bill of Rights, their sheer size and economic power assures they will crowd out the legitimate voices of people until only corporate images and corporate values define what life is all about and the “company line” occupies every waking moment of our lives.” –Ferner made his statement at a protest at the Boise-Cascade Corp.’s office.

July 26

1788 – New York becomes a state    

From New York State Business Corporation Law, Section 101:

“The attorney-general may bring an action for the dissolution of a corporation upon one or more of the following grounds: (1) That the corporation procured its formation through fraudulent misrepresentation or concealment of a material fact. (2) That the corporation has exceeded the authority conferred upon it by law, or has violated any provision of law whereby it has forfeited its charter, or carried on, conducted or transacted its business in a persistently fraudulent or illegal manner, or by the abuse of its powers contrary to the public policy of the state has become liable to be dissolved. (b) An action under this section is triable by jury as a matter of right.”

1856 – Birth of George Bernard Shaw, playwright and critic

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

“You don’t learn to hold your own in the world by standing on guard, but by attacking, and getting well hammered yourself.”

1990 – Americans with Disabilities Act goes into effect 

The Act made discrimination based on disability illegal. Unlike the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the law also mandated employers to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities and established accessibility requirements on public accommodations.

July 27

1869 – Death of William Sylvis, labor organizer and President of the National Labor Union

An ironworker from Pennsylvania, Sylvis organized 21 local iron moulder union locals to form the Iron Moulders’ International Union. Maybe his most important contribution in labor history was his insistence in telling workers not to be divided by racial, political or religious differences. Along with other trade reformers, he formed the National Labor Union and was elected its President.

2019 – “The new political story that could change everything” posted article

“And as soon as I found that word, I realized that I wanted to devote much of the rest of my life to it. The word is “rewilding,” and even though rewilding is a young word, it already has several definitions. But there are two in particular that fascinate me. The first one is the mass restoration of ecosystems…

“And perhaps this is the most important thing that rewilding offers us, the most important thing that’s missing from our lives: hope. In motivating people to love and defend the natural world, an ounce of hope is worth a ton of despair. The story rewilding tells us is that ecological change need not always proceed in one direction. It offers us the hope that our silent spring could be replaced by a raucous summer.”

“Now, I mentioned that there are two definitions of rewilding that interest me. The other one is the rewilding of human life. And I don’t see this as an alternative to civilization. I believe we can enjoy the benefits of advanced technology, as we’re doing now, but at the same time, if we choose, have access to a richer and wilder life of adventure when we want to because there would be wonderful, rewilded habitats…

2020 – “Revealed: oil giants help fund powerful police groups in top US cities” posted article

“Big corporations accused of driving environmental and health inequalities in black and brown communities through toxic and climate-changing pollution are also funding powerful police groups in major US cities, according to a new investigation.

“Some of America’s largest oil and gas companies, private utilities, and financial institutions that bankroll fossil fuels also back police foundations – opaque private entities that raise money to pay for training, weapons, equipment, and surveillance technology for departments across the US.”

July 28

1868 – Adoption of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution

“The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. Often considered as one of the most consequential amendments, it addresses citizenship rights and equal protection under the law and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War. The amendment was bitterly contested, particularly by the states of the defeated Confederacy, which were forced to ratify it in order to regain representation in Congress. The amendment, particularly its first section, is one of the most litigated parts of the Constitution, forming the basis for landmark Supreme Court decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) regarding racial segregation, Roe v. Wade (1973) regarding abortion (overturned in 2022), Bush v. Gore (2000) regarding the 2000 presidential election, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) regarding same-sex marriage. The amendment limits the actions of all state and local officials, and also those acting on behalf of such officials.

“The amendment’s first section includes several clauses: the Citizenship Clause, Privileges or Immunities Clause, Due Process Clause, and Equal Protection Clause.”

[NOTE: The Amendment is now under assault by the U.S. Supreme Court, as reflected in the recent decision to overturn Roe v Wade. Other human rights, affirmed in previous decisions by the High Court anchored by the 14th Amendment, are likely in the near future to be threatened. However, there is no threat by the current Court that previous decisions proclaiming corporate entities are legal persons based on the Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection clauses will be overturned.]

1879 – Birth of Lucy Burns, women’s suffrage leader

Burns was the most arrested suffrage leader. She was a co-leader with Alice Paul of the national suffrage movement. Who helped organize the massive Washington DC suffrage parade in 1913. She was beaten and force-fed in Occoquan prison.

2003 – Publication of John A. Bingham and the Story of American Liberty: The Lost Cause Meets the ‘Lost Cause’” by Michael Kent Curtis, in The Akron Law Review

John Bingham was a Republican Congressman from Ohio and principal framer of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which granted due process and equal protection under the law to freed slaves.

“What did he [Bingham] think about the conversion of the Fourteenth Amendment from a protection of all constitutional rights for all citizens to a bulwark of corporate power against the protests of farmers and workers? Here we have a bit more information. Bingham later wrote that the amendment had been designed to protect natural persons, not corporations.

“That seems quite reasonable, particularly since the first sentence of Section one refers to persons ‘born or naturalized in the United States.’”

July 29

1805 – Birth of Alexis de Tocqueville, author of Democracy in America

“Without power and independence, a town may contain good subjects, but it can contain no citizens.”

1883 – Birth of Benito Mussolini, Italian Dictator

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” 

“The definition of fascism is The marriage of corporation and state ”

2020 – “When Mega-Donors Dominate Charitable Giving, Democracy Pays the Price” posted article

“In advance of the 10th anniversary of the Giving Pledge, founded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) documents a troubling trend of small donor declines with a parallel rise in wealthy mega-donors within the nation’s philanthropic sector.

“The report, “Gilded Giving 2020: How Wealth Inequality Distorts Philanthropy and Imperils Democracy,” finds that this top-heavy philanthropy poses considerable risks to the independence of the nonprofit sector, the integrity of the tax system, and to democracy itself. It also suggests that the 2017 tax cut and the COVID-19 pandemic will worsen this drift toward inequality in philanthropy.”

July 30

2015 – “Jimmy Carter: The U.S. is an ‘Oligarchy with Unlimited Political Bribery” published article

 “Now [the United States is] just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over.”

2019 – The Pharma Companies and Execs Who Fueled the Opioid Crisis Should Face the Same Fate as El Chapo

“It seems we’re not prosecuting corporations or their executives because they don’t neatly fit our idea of a perpetrator like El Chapo. But when 200,000 Americans have died from overdoses related to prescription opioids, basic principles of justice demand we take a hard line with the people and organizations who’ve fueled this current public health crisis.

“The corporations themselves have broad protections under the 14th Amendment, and U.S. courts have ruled that corporations should have the same rights as people. “Corporate personhood” means that companies regularly enjoy equal protection under the law. By this logic, when they commit crimes, they should be held to the same standards as people, including low-level drug offenders who continue to populate our prisons.”

July 31

1965 – Birth of J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter fantasy series

Some claim Rowling has one of the greatest imaginations. But her fantasies pale in comparison to those of Supreme Court justices who have claimed legal documents (corporations) possess unalienable constitutional rights equal to human beings. Now that’s an imagination!

2009 – Committee for Economic Development submits brief to U.S. Supreme Court in opposition to Citizens United v. FEC 

The Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization that delivers well-researched analysis and reasoned solutions to our nation’s most critical issues.   

From their brief to the Supreme Court:                   

“In this amicus curiae brief, CED seeks to counteract the assumption that corporations want more leeway to spend money on political campaigns. To the contrary, the business leaders who serve as CED’s trustees believe that a decision striking down the ban on corporate electioneering expenditures would severely harm corporate interests…

“Businesses would not welcome such a regime because it would expose corporations to corrupt shakedowns for political money. Corporations would face intense pressure to provide indirect financial support for candidates to attract the attention of, and avoid retribution from, elected officials. Corporate electioneering would harm public confidence in business, fueling the perception that large corporations secure unfair advantages by purchasing political influence. Yet each corporation would be helpless to get out of the political game, fearful of losing out in the economic marketplace to competitors that were willing to play ball.”

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