By Elizabeth Lindquist
In the midst of the flurry of last-minute political campaigning, three dozen people of varying political stripes came together last Thursday, Oct. 30, to hear from an author who has been fighting an enemy common to conservatives, independents and liberals alike — corporate personhood.
Jeff Clements, author of Corporations are Not People, and his organization, Free Speech for People, have, since 2010, been working to educate the public about the doctrine of corporate personhood and its legal ramifications, including corporate constitutional rights. These Supreme Court-granted corporate constitutional rights have conflicted with laws passed by the states and Congress. Free Speech for People engages in legal advocacy against these claims of corporate exemptions from laws, submitting amicus briefs in legal cases throughout the country, including pertinent Supreme Court cases such as Citizens United vs. FEC. The event was hosted by the Rockford chapter of Represent.Us and was held at the Rockford Public Library East Branch.
Rockford Represent.Us members became acquainted with Clements while he was writing the second edition of his book, originally published in 2012, and interviewed members of the group. Much has changed since 2012 in the areas of corporate rights, money as speech and campaign finance. The second edition comprehensively covers all this and adds a chapter on what individual citizens are doing on the ground to affect change. Clements included the work of Rockford Represent.Us in that chapter.
Regarding the new edition, Clements said: “The best part of writing the new edition was the many conversations I had with real people all over the country who aren’t waiting for someone else to fix this. Folks like the group here in Rockford are working, one step at a time, to return control of our Republic to the people. They inspire me.”
Rockford group members were pleased with the recognition.
“It’s great to see Rockford recognized on a national level for something so positive and unique,” said longtime Rockford member John Galbo.
Others present at the meeting were there to learn more about the subject and what options they had for taking action.
Rockford resident Steve Szpila said: “I’m interested in finding out about the book and the author. I have great disdain for the Citizens United decision and believe the Supreme Court vandalized the rights of all the voting public with it.”
Following the meeting, Szpila said: “I think we can derail the politicians who act like they are working for the corporations instead of their constituents. I want to have the opportunity to vote for someone who really represents me. Right now, we have a choice now of the lesser of two evils. Abe Lincoln couldn’t afford to run for any office today. But we can prevail because the Constitution says ‘We the people,’ not ‘We the corporations.’ I have hope.”
Another Rockford resident seemed similarly hopeful.
“It makes me very happy to see so many community members working together in order to search for solutions to the rampant corruption present in today’s politics,” said Colin McGroarty. “If we are to restore the American way of life to this country, it will be a direct result of engaged citizens and grassroots organizations such as this.”
Corporations are Not People is available at independent booksellers, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and directly from the publisher, Berrett-Koehler. More information can be found at CorporationsAreNotPeople.com and FreeSpeechForPeople.org. The Rockford Represent.Us group meets the second Saturday of the month at noon at Kate’s Pie Shop, inside the Rockford Public Library, 6685 E. State St., Rockford. More about the group can be found at Represent.Us and facebook.com/AntiCorruptionAct.
From the Nov. 5-11, 2014, issue