Yesterday at the George Mason University campus in Arlington, Coffee Party USA co-founder Eric Byler was one of several speakers, including Rep. Jim Moran (see this diary earlier today for more) at a forum and rally against the Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” ruling. This decision gave corporations a constitutional “right” to spend unlimited money influencing elections, which is patently absurd, not to mention seriously damaging to our democracy. According to Byler, the question facing President Obama – and, I’d add, many other politicians struggling with whether or not they can afford to do the right thing – is “what should I fear more, being voted out of office, or being advertised out of office?” That, according to Byler, is exactly the question facing President Obama right now as he tries to decide whether or not to nominate Elizabeth Warren to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and also whether or not to sign an executive order “that would require companies that bid for government contracts to disclose their campaign spending, in order to diminish the likelihood that contracts are a payoff for political expenditures.”
Byler notes that Republicans are looking at the same calculus, but in a more insidious way:
You see Paul Ryan on Meet the Press, where he said, yeah, 80% of Americans are against the repeal of Medicare…but leaders don’t worry about people, leaders change polls. What do you suppose gave him the confidence to say that leaders are going to change 80 to 20 in time for 2012 – obviously it wasn’t in time for [this past Tuesday’s New York special election]… Leadership spending is going to change those polls. What he meant was corporate spending. What he meant is everything we’ve been talking about here.
Byler’s answer? People – like himself and his partner Annabel Park – using democratized media (YouTube, Facebook, etc.) to fight back. If a lot more people do that, Byler believes, they can “rival corporate power, corporate spending.”
The conclusion of the video, including Eric Byler’s highly amusing story about WWF professional wrestling (and its relationship to Citizen’s United, believe it or not) is on the “flip”