GRP Comments on Question 2

The Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts takes no position on whether to vote YES or NO, or abstain from voting on statewide ballot Question 2. While we do not take a specific position on this Question, we would like to offer our concerns…

First, let us make it clear that the Green-Rainbow Party is very much in favor of legally establishing that corporations are not people, that money is not speech, and regulating donations to, and spending on, electoral campaigns.

Our position is that the U.S. Supreme Court ‘Citizen’s United v. FEC’ decision (which prohibits restricting unlimited corporate independent expenditures) was wrongly decided and is in fact an abomination constituting a corporate take over of our democracy. As steps to remedy this take over, the Green Party platform section 1 A (1) parts (c) and (d) calls for:

  1. Providing full public financing of federal, state and local elections, including free and equal radio and television time on the public airwaves for all ballot-qualified candidates and parties. AND
  2. Prohibiting corporations from spending to influence elections, preferably by constitutional amendment abolishing granting corporations constitutional rights guaranteed to natural persons, or as a condition of receipt of a corporate charter by federal chartering of corporations.

As a further indicator of the Green-Rainbow Party's commitment to reducing the destructive impact of money on electoral campaigns, the Green-Rainbow Party has endorsed the proposed ‘Pass Mass Amendment’ ballot referendum to amend the Massachusetts Constitution to state that “corporations are not people, and money is not speech.” However, we believe that the adoption of Question 2 would not result in any real constructive change, and what change it could have may very well undercut 100 years of labor law.

Ballot Question 2 calls for the creation of a committee that would suggest how to change the U.S. constitution. We do not know what recommendations the committee would eventually come up with.

The members of the committee would be appointed by the Massachusetts Governor, Secretary of the Commonwealth, Attorney General, and leaders of the two houses of the Massachusetts State Legislature; the membership of the committee would be determined by Democratic and Republican Party politicians who are in office because they were funded by corporations. Question 2, if passed, would place control of reform efforts in the hands of the very individuals who have blocked reform in the past, including the parties who stopped the voter-approved Clean Elections Law using an unrecorded voice vote. This could allow the genuine citizen-based movement to clean up campaign financing to be captured by the very forces that have been stifling reform, thus delaying needed changes.

The GRP's end goal is to get all private money out of politics, with campaigns fully funded solely via a public fund with all candidates receiving the same allotment. Until that happens, all private contributions, including those from individuals, and those from organizations, must be highly regulated in different ways depending on the entity. Contributions made by corporations should not be permitted in any amount because a corporation should not have constitutional free speech protections. A corporation is not a person. It is a legal entity created for the purposes of conducting business. Granting a corporation personhood turns democracy into a grotesque monstrosity.

If Ballot Question 2 has an impact, there is the serious matter of the use of the phrase "artificial entities" in the bill's language. Note that the summary in the Voter Information booklet for Ballot Question 2 uses the word "corporations," and does not use the term “artificial entities.” However, the actual legal language, provided  in the 2018 Voter Information booklet, uses the term "artificial entities," as well as the word "corporations." The term "artificial entities" has not been established under the rule of law. There is no actual definition. The term is being used to target unions, which are not organized as corporations.

Currently, unions use their rights under law to file for permits to protest. They also use them to engage in collective bargaining. These rights, among others established over 100 years of labor law, are critical to protect.

If Question 2's sponsors want to limit the rights of corporations, they should limit the bill's language to the word "corporations" only.  Most voters will only read the summary. To use the word "corporations" in the summary, and then shift to the using both “corporations” and "artificial entities" in the actual bill's language needs to be reconciled. Because it may be years before we can understand the impact of the use of the phrase “artificial entities”, we must not codify the phrase into law.

We encourage voters to consider the issue and come to an independent decision. Either way you decide to vote, we encourage you to support true grassroots, non-corporate efforts to enact full public financing of federal, state, and local elections, free and equal radio and television time on the public airwaves for all ballot-qualified candidates and parties, and passage of both a Massachusetts and U.S. constitutional amendment that prohibits granting corporations constitutional rights guaranteed to natural persons.

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  • Joyce Palmer-Fortune
    commented 2018-10-22 11:24:08 -0400
    This is awesome. Thanks for the clear explanation in plain english