by J. Chris Sanders, Attorney, Chris Sanders Law PLLC
Two things I’m not going to say in this brief post. First, I’m not going to explain the Citizens United decision. Ever since the Supreme Court spoke in 2010, there’s been plenty of explanation. More than explanation, there are a number of campaigns to reverse the decision, to pass a constitutional amendment overturning it, and/or to blunt its worst effects. Those campaigns do a complete and admirable job of explaining the decision, its ramifications, and the fix that we’re in. But just to keep us on the same page, here’s my two cents. I keep it short: “the Supreme Court perverted Freedom of Speech into legalized corruption by promoting unlimited campaign cash in our elections.”
We know what the problem is. The question for this post is what to name the problem, or rather, what not to name the problem. We just have to stop saying, “we hate Citizens United.” Or “end citizens united.” Or “citizens united is bad for democracy.” I’m sorry to step on friends’ toes, but I’m concerned. Standing alone, without backstory about the decision, “we’re against citizens united” is counterintuitive. Unless the hearer knows that “citizens united” means the Supreme Court legalized giant money’s control over our politics, it makes no sense.
You can almost see the baffled stares and hear the snide rhetorical questions in the media. “Why are progressives against united citizens?” We aren’t- we are the united citizens! Not them- they’re organized and united money, remember? The organization “Citizens United” was just a multi-million-dollar “nonprofit” masquerading as a movement. It’s Orwellian to get people to believe that organized money is really united citizens, but that’s exactly what CU was trying to do.