January 26th, 2011

Maybe Skynet Won’t Become Self-Aware And Terminate Us After All: Sen. Ginny Lyons Takes on Corporate Personhood

by Philip Baruth

Back in the day, circa 2003, you could always count on a stark contrast between the Bush Administration and what VDB thought of as the Shadow Administration: the various personalities and approaches reaching the nation from the great state of Vermont. So for every Dick or Donald they brought to the fight, we had a Patrick or Howard who rose to the challenge. Heady days, those.

We offered a competing vision, a winter home for common sense and civil rights. But with Democrats now more or less in charge in DC, pushing policies that too often seem like weak echoes of Bush at his worst, those contrasts have blurred.

Smudged might be a better word.

But not entirely: when it comes to the issue of corporate personhood, Vermont is anchoring the push-back to the conservative Roberts Supreme Court.

Last year’s Citizens United decision not only opened the flood gates for corporate money in American politics. More to the point it conferred full “free speech” rights on corporations, said speech to issue in the form of anonymous corporate donations to parties and PACS.

The most disturbing element of the logic was this, though: if corporations are people, are citizens with inalienable rights, and if money is de facto speech, then any citizen corporation that does not pour money into the process is, by definition, a bad citizen.

It was active encouragement for the buying of American elections. And not just by American corporations.

Enter State Senator Ginny Lyons. Lyons knew that appeals through the courts would be stopped at the net by Roberts’s 5-4 majority. So she’s begun the long hard work of encouraging a Constitutional amendment, banning corporate personhood.

Not that Ginny thought of it first. National Democrats have been sounding off about the need for a Constitutional Amendment for months now. But she’s now made Vermont the first state to put its money where its mouth is, and her resolution should come up very soon for a vote in the Vermont Senate, where it looks to pass with room to spare.

VDB likes. A lot.

And we’ll bring you more coverage as that resolution moves through the process. Because it’s more necessary now than it was last year: Republican Tom Cole of Oklahoma has introduced a bill that would kill the public financing system for American Presidential elections, and he’s timed it for the one-year anniversary of Citzens United.

Game on.