The ActBlue Blog: How We Win

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Sep 02, 2010

How We Win

Guest post by Steve Gold, General Counsel, ActBlue

Commenting in a post on Facebook recently about Target shareholders' demands for a review of the company's political contributions policy, CREDO wrote:

This is really promising. If we can bring BOTH shareholder and consumer pressure on corporations that use their deep pockets to support right wing candidates, there is a chance to limit the damage of corporate influence in elections. And then we can pass a constitutional amendment making it clear that corporations do not have the rights of persons.

This is a great story, and there has been plenty of great work done on this issue, by CREDO as well as and others. As everyone interested in politics knows by now, Target's contribution to an anti-gay Republican candidate for governor of Minnesota was made possible by the Supreme Court's decision in Citizen's United v. FEC. The Brennan Center in particular has done amazing work on the issue of corporate political speech and warned specifically about the dangers of corporations spending political money without shareholder approval.

CREDO is right on the money when they call for shareholder pressure on top of the consumer pressure that has been making Target pay the price for supporting an anti-gay right-wing candidate. There is a divergence of opinion, however, with regard to the feasibility of pushing for a constitutional amendment.* Drafting the right constitutional amendment to address this problem and then getting it passed in three quarters of the states is a monumental task.

Thankfully, it's not the only tool we have to fight back with.

We--individuals--can speak out, too, and raise money for candidates and committees that are speaking out. You raised over $18,000 on ActBlue to help elect Annise Parker the first openly gay mayor of any U.S. city in 2009. And although the fight continues, your contributions totaling over $1 million to Equality for All were a major factor in the battle for marriage equality in California, just as they were in Maine and Kalamazoo, MI and elsewhere. The scale of the fundraising around these issues on ActBlue made the intangible quantifiable; because of those efforts, there is now a national conversation taking place about gay rights.

We can do something similar about Target. Reducing Target's effect on elections—if it's possible—would no doubt improve our democracy. Just as effective (and arguably more satisfying) would be to make sure the pile of cash they're spending in Minnesota not only gets them into hot water, but is entirely wasted to boot. ActBlue makes it possible for every one of us to be a part of that. Together, our voices are louder than Target's. The attention we've brought to Target's donation, and a similar donation by News Corp., the parent company of Fox News, has re-focused attention on Citizens United and the effects it has on our political system. In short, we've already beaten them on the airwaves; all that remains is to defeat the candidates they're propping up.

More speech. More money. The right money. It's an imperfect system our Founders created for us—as are all human institutions—but as we at ActBlue have been showing for six years, it's a pretty good system for fighting back against entrenched interests until we have a more perfect system. We just have to be willing to use the rules to our advantage.


*On a personal note, as a longtime CREDO member—from over a decade ago when it was just Working Assets and they only sold long distance service—I worry about curtailing the free speech rights of corporations. CREDO is a corporation, and for years I've been signing their citizen letters to protect the environment, stop the war, hold Dick Cheney accountable, and myriad other public policy concerns that matter to me. It would be a tragedy if the goverment could tell CREDO that it has no first amendment right to free speech or to petition the government for a redress of greivances.


We need to somehow bypass Fox and the corporate media to get the message out. Murdoch, the Koch Brothers, libertarians that they are, but really just fascists , are only interested in one thing: getting rid of government and taxes, and to hell with the people. If you're following the story in London, you know that Murdoch is exerting pressure on the new conservative government that he backs, while infiltrating every corner of the lives of liberals, the royal family, and anyone else who doesn't agree with them. They are attacking the BBC and trying to destroy it, just the way Bush, Murdoch, etal worked so hard to destroy public TV and radio here in the States.

My thought is that all progressive organizations need to keep their identity, but join together for the causes that bind us. Move-On is meeting in front of Senate candidate, Mark Kirk's, office tomorrow September 8, at 12:00 noon, to protest ownership of this country and our congress by the corporations at the expense of the middle class, senior citizens, the disabled, workers, health care reform, and so much and so many more.

I will contribute via Pay Pal!

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