Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Christine Pelosi Headshot

When Corporate Speech Jeopardizes Equality We Can't Just "Shut It Off" -- Women Must Pursue Citizens United Reform

Posted: Updated:

Women in America cannot achieve our full economic and personal fulfillment as long as the concentration of wealth and power in the top 1% continues to stifle democratic voices and progressive policies.  Citizens United reform -- where we disclose donors, reform campaign finance laws, and amend the Constitution to enshrine the value that people are people and corporations are not -- is our surest path forward to equality.

Until Citizens United, American politics was premised on the constitutional promise of one person one vote. The beauty of our democracy lies in the American value of equality:  if you vote, you have a seat at the table. If you speak, you have a chance to persuade others. A billionaire and a minimum wage earner have the same power at the ballot box. Not anymore. With Citizens United, the Supreme Court's declaration that corporations are people, the whims of one can silence the voices of millions.

On this second anniversary of Citizens United, the court decision equating corporations with people, American women must join together to combat its nefarious effects on our lives and our families. In the past two years, Citizens United has allowed corporations to flood the airwaves and the corridors of power with anti-women legislation restricting women's health, worker's rights, and voting rights. We must fight back.

Justice Antonin Scalia doesn't seem to find a problem. Yesterday he said: "I don't care who is doing the speech -- the more the merrier," Scalia said. "People are not stupid. If they don't like it, they'll shut it off." 
If only it were so easy to combat the powerful stranglehold of corporate cash on public policy. 

It isn't.

Shutting off the TV or radio won't stop ads from being generated, campaigns from being funded, or special interest legislation from being written. Shutting off the TV isn't shutting off the spigot. Denial is not a strategy -- activism is.

As long as Republicans offer a return to the same tax policies that former Vice President Al Gore called out in 2000, when he debated then-Governor George W. Bush for promoting tax cuts for the top 1% -- and those 1% protect their investment through super PACs and super lobbyists, we can't "shut it off" and expect income inequality to change.

As long as the 99% are undermined by what Joseph Stiglitz wrote in May 2011 -- a policy of "of, by and for the 1%" -- we can't "shut it off" and expect our lives to get better.

As long as corporations use the power of the purse to block Wall Street reform, mortgage relief, minimum wage laws, polluter pays legislation, food safety, healthcare and reproductive services, and other common sense measures to keep families housed, fed, clothed, and healthy, we can't "shut it off" -- we need Citizens United reform.

Women who want our kids breathing clean air, drinking clean water, and eating safe food but are thwarted by polluters and greenwashers can't just "shut it off" -- we need Citizens United reform.

Women who want good paying jobs, collective bargaining rights, equal pay for equal work, and equality of opportunity but are systematically opposed by union busters and outsourcers can't just "shut it off" -- we need Citizens United reform.

Women who need fair lending practices, consumer protections, small business capital and mortgage relief but find Wall Street reforms blocked by big banks can't just "shut it off" -- we need Citizens United reform.

Women in the shadows of life -- the poor, the vulnerable, the disabled -- trying to protect the safety net of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from privatizers can't just "shut it off" -- we need Citizens United reform.

Women who need dependable childcare, quality schools, affordable healthcare, and safe communities for our children amidst limited funding for expect trained caregivers, teacher, nurses, and first responders can"t just "shut it off" -- we need Citizens United reform.

Women who want the freedom to marry, to choose the size and timing of our families, and to serve our country regardless of whom we love yet find liberty threatened by small-minded ideologues with big checks can't just "shut it off" -- we need Citizens United reform.

Women who care about electing feminists to public office in an era of voting rights attacks, unlimited political ads and endless smears can't just "shut it off" -- we must pursue Citizens United reform.

Women -- and men -- who care about the devastating impact that Citizens United has had on women and who believe in restoring the principle of one person one vote to our democracy must pursue Citizens United reform. To achieve equality, feminists can't deal with injustice by agreeing to "shut it off" -- we must pursue Citizens United reform.