So far, we have examined the role of interest groups and money in the US political system. What some call corruption is entirely legal in the US–that is, the degree of political influence depends almost entirely on wealth and the ability to spend money. There are official interest groups that are able to lobby lawmakers for influence, and there are even so-called “charities” like ALEC that allow corporations to write the bills that become laws in a secretive closed-door process. Even the 14th Amendment (known for expanding citizenship and being the basis for civil rights) has been used to empower corporations. What happened to government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”? Considering how far we have come to expand legal personhood so that women and people of color have political power, how did the United States come to this situation today? And what can be done about it?
By now you should have already seen the documentary film “Legalize Democracy” by the group Move To Amend, which is important to this module (Move To Amend is an organization calling for an amendment to the US Constitution to end corporate personhood so that inalienable rights belong to human beings only. They argue that money should not be a form of protected free speech under the First Amendment and that donations should be regulated in political campaigns).
With the film fresh in our mind, we will each select one group that has major lobbying power to report on and discuss with one another. Check out the 2019 article “The 20 Companies and Groups that Spend the Most Money to Influence Lawmakers (Links to an external site.)” and select one of the interest groups listed to investigate further and comment on. If you would like to write about a group not listed here, just check with your instructor (me) first to make sure it fits the parameters of the assignment.
Their work sets the stage for addressing the following:
What is your chosen company/group lobbying for (or against)? And what tactics does this group use?
What do their supporters say? What does their opposition say?
If relevant, how have this group’s efforts to influence policy been affected by the past year under COVID?
Using MTA’s Legalize Democracy as a conceptual guide, how might your chosen company/group relate to the issue of corporate power as discussed in the film? (Add any additional analysis as you see fit)
* Since there are twenty options to choose from, do not repeat a company/interest group that a fellow student has already used.
** This week you will likely need to do a little outside research to understand what your chosen company/group has been up to. I suggest using a resource such as https://www.opensecrets.org/ (Links to an external site.) (or any other reputable source, but be sure and cite sources). When you use outside sources, these need to be appropriately cited. For our purposes, informal citations (Links to an external site.) are sufficient (but sources do still need to be cited).
Your initial response should be between 300 and 500 words in length, reflecting on the prompt above.