Illahee Lectures Just Got More Interesting

And no, we’re not just talking about our updated blog (which will continue to improve over the next few weeks, we promise).

Published 19 April 2012 in the Oklahoma Observer.

Thanks to the upcoming election, the topics proposed for the 2013 Illahee Lectures are entering the public discourse. Not only are we concerned about Who Owns You, but so is the president — specifically who owns our elections (and more broadly, our government).

Last week President Obama chatted with the American public online via Reddit, a social news website that enables users to rank content, in an Ask Me Anything session (and subsequently crashed the site from a spike in user traffic). Out of about 20,000 comments Obama answered ten, and money influencing politics made the cut. When asked, “What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term?” he replied:

…Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.

As most of you know, the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC case allowed for unlimited corporate and union spending on electioneering communication. Now, two and a half years later, Obama is revisiting his call for more stringent disclosure rules. Here at Illahee, we’re skeptical. It’s easy to talk a big game during election season, but will the president follow through?

Maybe. Maybe not.

The more important question is whether the American public will hold him accountable? Our politicians should be beholden to the voting public and not a handful of anonymous individuals and corporate donors that hold the purse strings of our two major political parties. The same goes for our food, our environment, our finances, the media we encounter. For more in-depth discussion of the Citizens United case, check out Jeffrey Clements’ blog, Corporations are Not People. Clements will wrap up the Illahee Lectures on May 8th with his talk Who Owns our Government?

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