The power of corporations in politics and in our daily lives can seem insurmountable. They’ve got piles of cash, and no qualms about spending big to get their own way. The latest issue of YES! Magazine is a look at ways to shift the balance of power back toward real people. Here are nine strategies to put people back in charge.
1. Amend the constitution to end corporate personhood.
The Supreme Court says corporations have at least as many rights under the Constitution as you and I. We need an amendment that says rights are for flesh and blood people.
2. Dive into grassroots campaigns.
What happens when we put aside our partisan differences and take up a common cause? We stop polluting pipelines, get universal health care, and put economic fairness on the agenda. Grassroots power still works.
3. Hold corporations accountable to our laws.
There are powerful means already in place to hold corporations accountable: Deny them government contracts, revoke their charters, use lawsuits to hold them accountable for the damage they cause. We have the tools. We just need to use them.
4. Get past the propaganda.
Corporations have spent millions to convince people that false things are true. “Social Security is broke.” “Tort reform will save us all money.” Well-known “facts,” not at all true. Get past the propaganda.
5. Support independent media and keep the Internet free.
Cell phones and the Internet have been key components of mass movements from Egypt to Europe to the United States. They’re a threat to corporate power and oppressive governments. That’s why corporations are working hard to limit access to phones and the Net. Citizen groups are fighting back—and winning.
6. Protect the commons from private interests.
The profit motive often gets in the way of the public good. The corporation that supplied electricity to Boulder, Colo., didn’t listen when citizens asked for clean energy, so now Boulder’s making its electricity a public utility. The things we own in common and the necessities of life shouldn’t be owned by corporations. Time to take them back.
7. Vote. Build a strong democracy and put progressive leaders in office.
Even though corporations can now spend unlimited money in campaigns, we can make them tell where they’re spending it. Publicly funded elections let citizens run for office without selling out. We trust juries with justice—citizen juries can also sort out false from true on campaign issues. And recall elections can keep runaway politicians in check.
8. Make your dollars matter.
The “Move Your Money” campaign is going big time. Cities, universities, and faith organizations are moving billions from the big corporate banks to local banks and credit unions. And you can make your personal finances—from everyday purchases to long-term investments—send a message that you’re through supporting the big corporations.
9. Get creative to raise awareness.
Flash mobs, mud piles, mic checks, and singing in the courtroom. We can’t spend as much money as corporations to spread our message. But we’ve got something no corporation has: Wit and soul.