Two hundred thirty-five years ago, the 13 colonies issued their Declaration of Independence from the King of England. The most important and stirring passage of that document is this:
”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Please note the word “men” (now understood to include women) and the phrase “consent of the governed.”
That’s “men,” meaning humans; homo sapiens; people. But 110 years later, in 1886, the Supreme Court of the United States recognized corporations as persons for the purposes of the 14th Amendment – in particular, the “due process” clause.
Furthering that magical transformation, in 2010, the Roberts court held in Citizens United that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited due to corporations’ rights to free speech (as persons) under the First Amendment.
What’s next? Giving the vote to corporations? Oh, wait. Silly me. They don’t need the vote; they just buy all the votes they need with that unlimited right to spend any amount of money, giving malevolent new meaning to the phrase, “consent of the governed.”
In 1776, the people of the colonies were subject to the absolute power of the king through his resident enforcers, the Redcoats. Today, the people of the United States are subject to the limitless power of corporations through their retainers in Congress and the White House.
The people of the United States must redress this injustice sooner or later. For now, on this day, it does the heart good to remember the courage of the men who stood up to the king when they signed the Declaration of Independence on that hot July day in Philadelphia in 1776.
I hope your celebratory fireworks tonight are as beautiful as these:
The Elder Storytelling Place will return tomorrow.