Wolf PAC is one of many political organizations working in the name of democracy for much-needed constitutional amendments to declare that corporations are not, in fact, persons and do not have rights. A common goal with community rights, albeit a very different strategy.
This post looks at the disconcerting language that I see Wolf PAC often (and unnecessarily) use to promote their cause. It in no way invalidates the necessity of what they do as a sister movement of community rights work! From their web page, they state (emphasis mine):
We must reverse Citizens United, Restore our Democracy, and Save the Republic.
To restore true, representative democracy in the United States…
Restore and save whatnow? A volunteer for the Wolf PAC has something similar in his email signature:
Fighting for free and fair elections to restore representative democracy.
This begs the question, and pardon me if this seems harsh, but (in bold and all caps) AT WHAT POINT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES DID WE ACTUALLY HAVE A TRUE REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY?
What or when exactly are we “restoring” our system to? Can someone please enlighten me? Was it before 1920, when women couldn’t vote? The Federal Government granted imaginary personhood to corporations (1886) before it acknowledged the real personhood of women (1920). Did we have a functional representative democracy at the founding of the nation, when women and people of color were property rather than persons under law? Or maybe we might blame representative democracy for the fact that the federal government has broken every single one of the over 500 treaties it has made with Native Americans, even treaties that had popular support at local and state levels? I challenge someone to provide a historically-complete answer to this question. I think an intellectually honest answer will simply state,
We have yet to achieve a true, representative democracy. We’re working on it!
In contrast, blind appeal to a nonexistant stage in our history where the US legal system somehow worked as a “representative democracy” implies that it is our duty to “restore” it to a working state to “save” the republic. But how can we “restore” or “save” something that never really existed in the first place? Hence, progressive conservatism — A romantic notion, and not even remotely accurate.
Instead, progressive conservatism serves the same powerful groups who shaped our nation’s laws in the first place, protecting their interests to the exclusion (or even detriment) of the general public welfare. Our system works the way the framers designed it to work: to cover up the core of a “limited monarchy” that “gives the first class a distinct, permanent share in the government” with a few token facades of representative democracy. Nothing new. The fight for representative democracy dates back thousands of years, to the origin of imperial control and the first struggles against tyranny and oppression. This legacy leaves us with the struggle to decolonize ourselves from serving and recreating “limited monarchies.”
We must ask ourselves: Do we really want to save or restore a “limited monarchy?” Or do we just want to create an actual, representative democracy that exists to protect the inherent, inalienable rights of natural and human communities and persons?
Fortunately, the marketing language and taglines that Wolf PAC and associated individuals use have little actual bearing on the substance of their work. That said, why not say something catchy, succinct, and also historically accurate like,
Fighting for representative democracy and the republic for which it stands
Here’s another example that uses common phrases in a historically-accurate way and also better describes Wolf PAC’s work to newcomers:
We must protect the people’s right to representative democracy through free and fair elections by reversing Citizens United and reforming campaign finance
We could also simply substitute “restore” and “save” with words like “create.”
Such discussions help us keep sight of the big picture goal: the democratic development of society. The community rights movement stands in the thick of that fight as well, where hundreds of communities across the United States rewrite American constitutional law to elevate the right of local, community self-government above corporate “rights” and powers. The result? A representative democracy, grassroots, from the ground up. Not perfect, but so much better than what we’ve got.
We need every gain we can get. I hope Wolf PAC fails miserably in any attempts to “restore” or “save” the limited monarchy of elite rule we’ve toiled under for centuries, in order that they may succeed in moving us closer toward a true representative democracy through their actual, stated goals of eliminating corporate personhood and campaign finance reform through constitutional amendment. Wolf PAC’s success will grease the wheels of democracy for the benefit of all US citizens!