U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio. The name either sends shivers down your back or … I can't think of a good "or" here. Give me a sec ... no, nothing.
Proposed constitutional amendment. I am of a mind that all new amendments, at least to the state Constitution, should be voted down. Federal? That depends.
"Corporations are people, my friend," Mitt Romney said Aug. 11.
Add these together and what do you get? Kucinich's H.J.RES.100: "An amendment to the Constitution of the United States regarding the use of public funds to pay for campaigns for election to Federal office." It is designed to take the corporation out of campaign funding.
This is a good example of R. Buckminster Fuller's "synergy," where the sum of the total is greater than the sum of its parts. Well, kinda.
Unlike the assessment of what HJR 100 will do, I do not believe this will end the controversy of defining "personhood" as only Homo sapiens under the laws of this nation.
I do think that Bill Moyers had it right when he told Stephen Colbert, "As a friend of mine in Texas says, he will believe that corporations are people when Texas executes one." So will I. Or just put one in jail.
When you add into the equation the super political action committees, the discussion of this proposed constitutional amendment explodes with that "made for TV" ideal of "The News" realism.
On Jan. 20, NPR’s Morning Edition asked if Kucinich’s proposal would actually and finally advance clear rules as to the obscene amounts of money corporations and the wealthiest one-tenth of 1 percent can stuff into a super PAC? Simple answer — no.
For irony, NPR quoted the Institute for Justice's Steve Simpson. He said, "People banding together in groups and exercising their right to free speech, to protest a court decision that held that people should be able to band together in groups and exercise their right to free speech — that's a little bit ironic."
Reviewing Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and other Supreme Court cases involving the First and Fourteenth amendments and corporations as people, it is clear that the court has held that corporations do have equal protection as "a person" under the First and Fourteenth amendments. Although they all concern election financing, these opinions are mostly based on the U.S. tax codes.
So what does Kucinich’s proposed amendment do? Two things:
1. "All campaigns for President and Members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be financed entirely with public funds. No contributions shall be permitted to any candidate for Federal office from any other source, including the candidate."
2. "No expenditures shall be permitted in support of any candidate for Federal office, or in opposition to any candidate for Federal office, from any other source, including the candidate. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press."
So where does this proposal say that corporations are not people?
It does and would require Congress, already stuck in a quagmire of terminal disagreement, to come up with rules of distribution (more regulation) and to give, hopefully a commission made up of extraterrestrials who would have absolutely no interest in how we kill ourselves, the rules and powers to distribute campaign funds.
This is contrary to at least a half-dozen proposed changes to current statute that would "reduce Federal spending and the deficit by terminating taxpayer financing of presidential election campaigns and party conventions."
Observation: If Congress really does tackle the idea of "personhood” concerning the First and Fourteenth amendments and close the gargantuan loophole in the campaign finance laws, it must also tackle our convoluted and overly confusing tax codes.
Opinion: Will never happen.
So how does this affect you, the average Columbian, Missourian and U.S. citizen?
First, as shareholders of a corporation, either directly, though your IRA or corporate retirement plan or via a mutual fund, wouldn't you like to know if that corporation was influencing an election through unlimited and unregulated funding?
Second, as a shareholder, wouldn't you rather see the billions of dollars given to the super PACs to influence federal and statewide elections used for a better purpose? Like, maybe, creating more jobs? Increasing employee pay and benefits? Modernizing factories?
David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.