fresh voices from the front lines of change







This is a class war and I welcome it because they have more to lose than we do and we’re going to kick their asses! – Leo Gerard

I attended Thursday’s Netroots Nation panel, After Citizens United: Combating Corporate Power in Elections,

The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United vs. FEC handed corporate interests enormous unchecked power in the democratic process. Last November, in the first election since the decision, we saw its real results: outside groups, many of whom kept their donors secret, poured unprecedented amounts of money into campaigns to elect pro-corporate members of Congress. Now, as the GOP House majority attempts to pass radical deregulation and slash social services, corporate interests are seeing a powerful return on their investments. This panel will explore ways that progressives can harness the widespread anger about Citizens United to create strong state- and local-level movements, find solutions at the federal level and prevent corporations from buying the 2012 elections.


John Nichols — The period 1964 to 78, we saw a great deal of progressive progress, the voting rights act, civil rights, votes for 18 yr olds, progress.

But since 78 there has been an absolute and committed deconstruction of that progress. We are going backwards, making it harder to vote.

Money is the biggest part of going backwards.

Presidential candidates can gather money, but not so much lower offices… money can swamp local elections.

No reform will counter Citizens United, short of a Constitutional amendment. Only one reform will work. All orgs have to come from every direction nothing short of Constitutional amendment will stop this

We need to grow a movement that is strong, powerful and unapologetic, like the movement to pass a Constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion.

Everyone in Democratic party is afraid of the anti-abortion movement, every Republican has joined it, they have won our politics

If we could get that with our movement, I’ll be satisfied. The amendment doesn’t have to pass, as long as it grows a movement that makes politicians respond.

If you are not actively engaged in that movement you are helping the other side

Laura Flanders

We need an amendment that says you can only be a person if you are a person.

Every conversation I have on any issue ends with, “you can’t do something about it because of money in politics.”

The BP oil disaster, no one in jail, etc. because of money in politics

Mining disaster, no one in jail, no one fired, etc. because of money in politics

Economy/financial disaster, millions out of jobs, more out of homes, no one in jail, no one fired, can’t change this, because of money in politics

Bored of hearing about it.

The problem is money in politics, every issue. The whole notion of “public” is under attack… It is just bribes.

Amanda Terkel

Think Progress and New Yorker exposed the Koch Bros, netroots can help bring attention to other groups doing this stuff.

These corporate front groups don’t have to report where the money comes from. So we can’t figure out where the money comes from. Millions are dumped into smaller races. Many are just one person, like “Taxpayers Against Earmarks,” was just trying to get one guy, was funded by one guy.

Leo Gerard

Shows the offensive CA-26 ad:

I would hope this would backfire

In 1985 I was a young kid sitting around with the heads of the union. Their Chief economist spoke, said there is a war going on, by people who have money against people who make things.

Our union had 1.2 million members. We gained them by merging with others, didn’t grow labor movement

A list of who the right has been attacking, private-sector unions, deindustrialized unions complained, we lost so many of the manufacturers who make it in America, but everyone said they’re “labor intensive” so we need to shed them.

Now it’s the public sector under attack.

Look what they’re doing to Medicare, Social Security. Just lift the cap, problem solved, not complicated, tell us we’re not smart enough to figure it out.

Medicare is 40% cheaper than private insurance, obviously private insurance money is behind Medicare attacks

They want to dismantle EPA. Nixon started EPA, he couldn’t get on the ballot now, not crazy enough.

In Michigan the Governor can privatize by decree. In Wisconsin the Koch bros are ready to cash in on privatization, opened a new lobbying office.

I mention all of these to tell you that if we knit together through the netroots all the people whose lives are being destroyed, if we talk to each other, and communicate, all that stuff in one single day is more than all the major networks combined.

We have to decide we’re not going to get pushed around, we have to fight back.

This is a class war their class has been fighting no one else has.

Change does not come from writing letters. Change comes, in Egypt or here, when working people and students and others say enough is enough and stand and fight and say we are going to take our democracy back.

To Canadians America is no longer shining city on the hill, but now they see what corporations have done.

If you landed from mars and you watched R debate what would you think?

This didn’t happen in 2010, this is an agenda they have been on for 30 years.

This is not going to go away until we decide that we are going to knit ourselves together, students, trade workers, all the groups, and decide that we are going to have a common message and that is we are going to take out democracy back

I think about this a lot and I look at the rest of the world where we’re talking about democracy, letting Republicans criticize Europe because they’ve got social infrastructure in Europe.

What other country that calls itself an advanced democracy has an alleged political party working at every level to make it harder for people to vote?

Why is that going on?

They want us to go back, to where those 400 families have as much wealth as half our population, to where teachers, etc aren’t in their way

This is a class war and I welcome it because they have more to lose than we do and we’re going to kick their asses!

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