Monday, August 25, 2008

Corporatized Conventions

The “historic” Democratic National Convention (DNC) will be just like all recent ones in one critical respect — business corporations will bankroll it. Corporate investments/donations are buying, at the very least, access to candidates and officeholders. It’s the same with the Republicans.

The DNC “Host Committee Partners” on their website reads like a list of the major US-based corporations.

Campaign Finance Institute issued an in-depth study of 2008 convention investments/donations. It showed that the more than 100 organizational (largely corporate) donors to the host committees of both party conventions have been deeply involved in political influence peddling -- $100 million in political action committee (PAC) contributions/investments and $700 million in lobbying since 2005. These same entities are providing $55 in financing to the DNC and $57 to the upcoming Republican Convention — just to show that they don’t play favorites.

Leading up to the DNC was an aggressive campaign courting corporations to invest in a “Once in a lifetime opportunity” to reach 35,000 visitors at the convention, including “232 Members of Congress, 51 Senators, 28 Governors [and] more than 6,000 delegates and Super delegates” with sponsorship levels ranging from 25 grand to $1 million.

Among the 1200 parties thrown at the DNC will be a very touching one by the AT&T corporation for Democrats who voted to grant the company immunity for illegal wiretapping of Americans

But aren’t there limits to corporate campaign cash? Ah, not really. A loophole in recent campaign finance “reforms” allows literally unlimited contributions/investments

All this adds up to a “golden rule” political system -- (s)he who has the gold rules. If you don’t have money to invest in politics, you’re/we’re left trying to organize massive social movements. Social movements have in the past been effective in winning basic rights for whole classes of people — including, women, slaves, children, and gays/lesbians. Grassroots social movements, however, on whatever issue you care most about would be considerably easier to mobilize if business corporations no longer possessed Constitutional “rights” to be involved in politics. Such “rights” give these entities access, influence and direct power. Conversely, they limit our access to influence, if not create, public policies.

Maybe we need a national convention on self-governance...and not bankrolled by major transnational business corporations.

In the meantime, when DNC goers return home (and RNC goers next week), ask them what their respective party platforms say about corporate constitutional rights. Ask them if corporate constitutional rights is a problem in their eyes. Finally, ask them, if they’re candidates running for congress this year, to fill out and return this survey.

Thank you!

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