An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Well, if you have read the first part, good.  That will make you much more prepared for this one.  Let’s get right into it.

The first panel speaker was Clayton Trotter.  He opened by saying that the taking of corporate personhood could negatively affect the Constitution significantly.  He also believed that to get your message out required money, so the idea that one could seperate money from political voice was impossible.  Trotter also believes that these companies pool their money, in order to give all the people inside of the corporation a voice.  That’s interesting, since most people who run companies could care less about those who work for them.

The next speaker was Jason Brandeis.  He was of the same mind as Trotter, believing that this was a First Amendment issue.  While saying that he had stuggled with the issue, he came to the conclusion that in this debate, the corporations are the underdogs.  Ironic position, given how much power they have these days.  After that point, he subsequently pointed out that amending the Constitution is a very long and tedious process, so making something like this come into effect would be difficult.  Brandeis closed by saying that not all corporations are bad, so we should have a much broader focus.

The third panelist was Steve Haycox.  He was from the History department.  His view seemed to be much like how Thomas Paine viewed things, by taking both sides of an issue and meeting in the middle.  He opened with a rather interesting quote –

To paint with too large a brush is misleading.

He then moved on to the idea that corporations are given extensive amounts of power, asking how much do we actually need to give them?  There were a couple of quotes from Theodore Roosevelt on this subject.  One said that corporations shouldn’t be allowed unlimited donations to political campaigns.  There was another quote which was very appropriate for this topic.

These corporate donors are the greatest icons of the criminal class.

That was pretty compelling way to view things.

Finally, there was Forrest Nabor.  His thoughts were kind of different.  He focused first on the fact that there have been different political regimes throughout history, and their effect has to be measured.  In the late 1800’s, most people were wage workers.  He posed challenges to both liberals and conservatives.  For the conservatives, he offered the sentiments of James Madison – the liberty and property should be equally protected.  It was clear that he was coming from a rather Libertarian stance.  To the liberals, he posed that corporations are all groups of people with similar interests, along with the interest of making money.  Nabor also took the position that the problems with corporations comes from government (ironic).  And he also took the side that it is hard to seperate money from politics, so we shouldn’t.

There were a lot of questions from the audience, so this will focus on some of the highlights.  One audience member commented that the British House of Commons elections were in a six week period, which didn’t leave enough time for big campaign donors to mobilize, saying that America should reflect that (good idea).  Several question and commentators held similar sentiments of keeping the money out of politics, and limiting campaign donations.  There was also talk about corporat accountability, or lack thereof, like with the BP Gulf spill (not calling it Deepwater Horizon.  That’s a way of placing the blame somewhere else.  If the spill up here was Exxon Valdez, then this is BP Gulf).

In a rather interesting reply to a question, Haycox said that the Citizen’s United case absolutely undid campaign reform.  That is an good point to make, when one is debating this.  All in all, it was a good debate.  This is a very timely issue, and one that does need a lot of scrutiny.  While no answers were reached in that room, it got the ball rolling on thinking about the future.  That is a priceless asset.

Stay tuned for another post about the debate next Tuesday.  For any who are interested, you can check the debate out at the Social Sciences Building at UAA.  It will start at 7:00 pm.  Hope to see you there!

Peace out,

Lefty

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