On the day that the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, when celebrities, politicians and statesmen, civil rights leaders and media personalities wax poetic about the great strides we’ve made as a nation, and the strides we have yet to take, it has become clear to many that opportunity may have partially changed complexion over the past five decades, but oppression still hasn’t changed its spots.
The human legacies of that famous day now reside in the White House, sit on the Supreme Court and grace the halls of Congress. Black men and women have risen to the heights of their chosen professions, from media and recording arts to law and medicine. Even as the Supreme Court turns a blind eye to the progress yet to be made, enabling state legislatures across the land to turn the clock back on voting rights, others in government and justice push back harder than ever, doing their utmost to secure the blessings of liberty to all Americans, regardless of race, creed or gender.
Despite the ongoing battle to build a better America, there is still one force that continues to grow unchecked, a force that has the power to control the messages in the media, the fortunes of political aspirants and the survival of ordinary working Americans. Even as we struggle to forge stronger ties and to engage with one another in the great debates of our time, some use this force to manipulate age-old enmities to divide and distract us from the truth of their overarching power. Solved problems make a comeback, propelled by the power of this force to corrupt the marketplace of ideas, to cloud over the truth and lend a patina of respectability to those ideals that once were banished as expressions of imperialism and oppression. That force is the corporation.
Of course, it is not only the corporation, but the many types of incorporated entities that wield unchecked power over our politics and policies, both foreign and domestic. It is not just poor blacks who suffer under the jackboot of oppression in 21st Century America, but the poor of all races and creeds, even those who still believe the tired old Jim Crow saw of better off white than black, no matter their economic condition. Women still have to fight for equal pay for equal work. Even with their newly minted casinos and improving conditions on the reservations, the genocide of Native Americans is still ignored and whole nations still have to live out their days in a land foreign to their ancestors and poisonous to themselves. It’s not just the racial wealth gap that continues unabated, but the entire middle class that is now under assault.
There are no solutions specific to these long-running issues being offered in this piece. Only this one simple truth: as long as we allow those who wield the power of incorporation that was granted by we the people to divide us by corrupting the marketplace of ideas, these problems will remain unsolved and America will be less than the nation it can and by birthright ought to be. We the people are the ultimate sovereigns of this land and who and what we allow to make fortunes on the backs of our labor is up to us. We must not go gently into that good night. We must make our government responsive to our needs and not those of the greedy and unpatriotic few.
There is a legitimate argument to be had between the libertarian and progressive ideas of building national prosperity but that conversation cannot even begin until we prevent the corruption of corporate-backed greed from dominating the debate. That begins with a constitutional amendment to abolish the activist court created doctrines of civil rights for corporations and the spending of money as an expression of protected speech. Please sign the petition and raise your voice in support of the sovereignty of real people over paper people everywhere you can.