Capitol Idea: The Political Issue Uniquely Suited to the Occupy Movement

Helping to enact a new proposed Constitutional amendment to roll back Citizens United would seem to be right up the Occupy movement's alley.

The Occupy movement so far has steered clear of articulating any clear policy goals, or engaging at all in the political process. That’s been smart, because the movement’s been able to grow as quickly, and effectively, as it has precisely for this reason. If Occupy had become about this bill, or that legislation, or whatever, the movement easily could have become too narrowly defined and been diminished as a result.

But now a political issue has come along that is as big as Occupy itself; one that is at the core of what animates the movement, and itself would rely on the kind of geographically dispersed support that Occupy represents. It’s been said often that the Occupy movement is diverse, and that the protesters themselves have differing views. However, if there is any single overarching grievance behind the entire movement, it would be too much corporate influence in our lives, and in our government.

Several Democratic senators on Tuesday unveiled a new proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an amendment which would strike back specifically at last year’s Citizens United Supreme Court decision that gave corporations even greater unfettered reach into our government.

The constitutional amendment would authorize Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal political campaigns, including independent expenditures, and allow states to regulate such spending at their level. It would also provide for implementation and enforcement of the amendment through legislation.

“By equating campaign spending with free speech, the Supreme Court has essentially ruled that the wealthiest among us should have the loudest voices in our elections,” says Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, one of the sponsors of the proposed amendment. “The American public is fed up with the outsize influence that money has on our politics. This constitutional amendment will restore the balance to our system that the American people expect in a democracy. It is time to return our elections to the hands of everyday citizens rather than the special interests.”

The fact is that it is hard, by design, to enact a new amendment to the Constitution. It’s been amended just 27 times in all of U.S. history, and 10 of those all came at once as the Bill of Rights. The Constitution’s not been amended successfully in 20 years. Even an amendment as basic as the Equal Rights Amendment has failed.

Given the fact that this new proposed amendment would cut into the influence of big, deep-pocketed corporations, you can bet those corporations will fight back hard to prevent it. It will take the sustained pressure of a movement the size and power of Occupy to get it done. Moreover, enacting a new amendment takes more than just convincing Washington to do so.

An act of Congress is only the start of a long process. To become enacted, an amendment must be ratified be three fourths of the state legislatures.

That’s 38 of the 50 states, and that’s where Occupy’s geographical reach comes in. Whether in Oakland, Calif., New York City, or Wichita, Kan., Occupy has proven its staying power to keep the pressure on its message. It will take that strength and commitment to ratify this new amendment. It would have to be the Occupy movement versus corporate influence, day in and day out, until that 38th legislature finally did the right thing.

It would seem to be just the kind of fight the Occupy movement was built for.


Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade. Capitol Idea is his regular column from Washington. This article originally was published as “The Political Issue Uniquely Suited to the Occupy Movement,” on Blogcritics.

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3 Responses to Capitol Idea: The Political Issue Uniquely Suited to the Occupy Movement

  1. I would love to see that amendment become a reality. If there is any central cause to this occupy movement, it is to change the status quo and the narrative in Washington. I’d say they’ve been successful in this so far.

    http://selfdeprecate.com/politics-articles/occupy-wall-street-capitalism-reform-movement/

  2. Paul B says:

    The picture says it all!!! If you could, who would be the first executed? Bank of America?? The ammendment needs to be reality if we are to save democracy!

  3. Joe Motor says:

    This is being embraced by many in the Occupy movement, as well as many not in the movement.

    Description
    In Unity,
    THE NEW COMMON SENSE
    A Declaration of INTERDEPENDENCE, born of necessity, from and for
    the collective conscience of the \\”99%\\” to and for the oligarchic
    \\”1%\\” of the United States of America.
    SUMMARY
    SECTION I: The Right to Equal Participation in Government has
    been taken from the People and is explained. — A Plan is offered
    to restore the Right to Equal Participation that requires only
    the use of tools and procedures that have already been proven to
    work. — The restoration of Equality must take priority above all
    and reasons are given. — Outside damaging influences must no
    longer be allowed privileged access to Elected Representatives in
    a Constitutional Republic. — An Offer in Compromise that would
    reunite this Nation with its Foundation is clearly stated. — A
    clear, workable and simple method by which we may rebuild
    ourselves as a Prosperous Nation and return to being One Hundred
    Percent is explained. — A New Litmus Test of our government is
    declared and explained. — A plan and petition to rebalance the
    Branches of Government is outlined in detail.
    SECTION II: Monitions are forwarded to our Leaders, to the
    Congress in specific, to the Media, to Law Enforcement and the
    Domestic Militia, and to the \\”1%\\” — A direct message and plea
    for the \\”99%\\” from the author(s).

    The following link is the full document, it is offered for non-profit public use:
    http://pastebin.com/gm2UV08D
    Please read and SHARE, This is being embraced by many in and outside the Occupy movement.

    Thank you,
    Joe