Election Day 2014: The Corporate State in Action
Paul Cienfuegos’ November 4th, 2014 Commentary on KBOO Evening News
(His weekly commentaries are broadcast every Tuesday evening. You can view or listen to them all
at PaulCienfuegos.com, CommunityRightsPDX.org, or subscribe via ITunes.)
Greetings! You are listening to the new weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos.
Today is Election Day around the country. And if I tried to make just one simple statement that
attempted to summarize the entire election, from state to state, from ballot initiative to ballot initiative,
from congressional races to senatorial and governor’s races, it would be this:
Large corporations have once again taken an enormous step forward in their capacity to quote/unquote
“educate” voters about the issues, to manipulate election results, and to set the boundaries of so-called
Here are two questions we need to seriously consider:
* How much longer are we willing to put up with this outrageous manipulation of our elections by
* And how much longer are we going to hand over millions of our hard-earned dollars – and our
advocacy organizations’ dollars – simply to try to keep up with the endless money that corporations are
able to spend to defeat our ballot initiatives and elect corporate candidates?
This is simply not sustainable!
* Five large corporations now own most of our news media.
* A handful of large corporations now own the voting systems that many states use to count their
* Thanks to a 1976 Supreme Court decision, large corporations can now spend whatever it takes to
support or defeat initiatives and candidates.
* Large corporations now provide the vast majority of the money that is spent by the Democrat and
Republican parties. Corporations haven’t won the right to vote – yet – but they really don’t need to,
because corporate money now pre-selects their favored candidates who end up on your November
ballot, and knocks many of the non-corporate candidates out of the race before the ballots are even
* Since 1987, large corporations now sponsor the nationally televised presidential debates, hiding
behind the very reasonable sounding organization called the Commission on Presidential Debates.
* Large media corporations will likely soon get the go-ahead to set up a two-tier internet system – a
pay-to-play system – where those with the dough get their websites streamed faster than those without,
which will make it even more difficult for advocacy organizations to reach most Americans.
Every election cycle, the situation grows more dire. Here’s a specific example….
In a few hours, we’ll find out whether the Measure 92 campaign to label GMO foods has survived the
largest assault of corporate dollars in Oregon’s history. I am crossing my fingers that a victory is still
possible, but the Measure 92 campaign team has been forced to focus for months on raising money
over other priorities, simply because corporate money in elections is a constitutionally-protected socalled
“right” of a corporate person, since the Supreme Court said so in 1976.
Believe it or not, we can stop large corporations from interfering in our elections. But to do so, we’re
going to have to learn how to shift our attention away from the one-corporate-harm-at-a-time form of
activism, and begin to admit to ourselves that the situation is much more dire than most of us are
willing to acknowledge.
We’re going to have to stop seeing the issues we care about as separate issues. The fact that our food
supply isn’t safe is directly linked to the fact that our ancient forests are being treated as commodities,
which is directly linked to the fact that our planet is reaching – or has already reached – the climate
tipping point, which is directly linked to the fact that our water is being privatized, which is directly
linked to the fact that our public schools no longer get the funding they need, and our college students
are accumulating a level of debt never before seen in the history of our country.
All of the above are merely symptoms of allowing corporate boards of directors to participate in the
political process. And the only reason that corporate boards are allowed to participate in these critical
societal decisions is that We The People are allowing corporations to exercise constitutional “rights”!
Once we stop being so obedient, and begin to strip corporations of their so-called “rights”, we will
discover that their political power was built like a house of cards.
Every year that single-issue activists do NOT focus at least some of their attention on dismantling
corporate “rights”, is another year that our activism is not going to be very effective, or at best, will
succeed in slowing the rate at which things get worse.
And we’ve got to stop acting as if the existing system of governance can be tweaked here and there to
make it work for us. It can’t. It was designed to serve the corporate elite, the 1%. It’s working
beautifully, as it was designed. It’s high time we stopped begging and pleading with our politicians to
pay attention to us, and instead start exercising our inherent right to govern ourselves.
Want to learn more about how you can transform your activism by integrating an analysis and a
strategy for dismantling corporate constitutional “rights”? I will be leading my next workshop in
Portland November 21 to 23. It’s called “We The People Are More Powerful Than We Dare to
Believe”. For more info about this very affordable weekend workshop, visit my website at
And one final reminder: If you haven’t yet turned in your ballot, you’ve got just two hours to do so.
Please bring your ballot to your county’s election office. Or you can google “Oregon Drop Box
Locator” to find a box near you. The deadline is 8pm.
You’ve been listening to the new weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear
future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News. I welcome your feedback.
You can subscribe to my new weekly podcast via I-Tunes or at CommunityRightsPDX.org. You can
sign up for my newsletter at PaulCienfuegos.com. THANKS FOR LISTENING! And remember: WE
are the people we’ve been WAITING for!