Politics & Government - Competition Details

Video to Save our Democracy!
Free Speech For People
Oct 14, 2013
Prize #1: $3000
Prize #2: $2000
Prize #3: $1000
Corporations are people?! Say what?! On January 21, 2010 the US Supreme Court, in Citizens United v FEC, ruled that corporations have free speech rights...now it's time to fight back!
Free Speech for People (www.freespeechforpeople.org), a non-profit and non-partisan organization, is posting a competition for a short video (3 minutes or less) that it wants to release in order to bring more awareness to the pernicious effects of giving corporations the same free speech rights as people. The video should creatively, and persuasively, dramatize the insidious problem of giving corporations the same rights as human beings, and also offer a viable solution to this problem. The more creative and effective ways that we, the people, can fight back, the better. While Free Speech For People (FSFP) believes the best solution, due to the sheer scope of the ruling, is to pass a Constitutional Amendment to derail this egregious ruling, it is also open to any other innovative solutions you might have. The goal of this video is to increase public awareness of this critical issue and inspire people to reclaim American democracy.

FSFP will award $3,000 to the creator of the 1st place video, $2,000 to the creator of the 2nd place video, and $1,000 to the creator of the 3rd place video.

The Citizens United ruling swept away a longstanding precedent barring corporate expenditures in our elections. With this ruling we can expect an ever increasing torrent of corporate money pouring into our elections, corrupting our elected officials and subverting the fundamental principals of our democracy. During the 2010 elections, we witnessed the beginning of this trend as hundreds of millions of corporate dollars were spent to influence elections around the country. Even worse, those corporations spending the money were not obligated to identify themselves, leaving open the very real possibility that foreign governments and foreign companies with malicious intent could interfere with our political process and our government officials. This has to stop!

The Framers of our Constitution never intended to have corporations be treated as people with free speech rights under the First Amendment. James Madison referred to corporations as “a necessary evil” subject to “proper limitations and guards.” Thomas Jefferson hoped to “crush in its birth the aristocracy of moneyed corporations…” For the first 200 years of our nation’s history, our courts followed the Framers’ intent and never assigned corporations free speech rights.

The reason? Common sense. Corporations are not people. They are artificial state entities. They do not breathe. They do not think. They do not have a conscience. In fact, they have state-based advantages that people do not have: limited liability, the ability to aggregate wealth and distribute wealth, and even perpetual life. And yet now, with this ruling, corporations are able, literally, to buy our elections.

In his dissent in Citizens United, then-sitting US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote: “The Framers thus took it as a given that corporations could be comprehensively regulated in the service of the public welfare. Unlike our colleagues, they had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of individual Americans that they had in mind.”

Corporations now have the ability to corrupt all three branches of government by buying Congressmen, Senators, Judges, many of whom are either elected or appointed by our elected officials, and even the President. If the nation's Fortune 100 companies spent just 1% of their annual profits (around $600 billion) on federal elections, it would amount to more than the total spent in all federal elections combined in 2008 ($5 billion). Additionally, any elected official who dares to challenge a corporate interest must now face the potential of being targeted by a massive independent expenditure campaign financed by corporate general treasury funds. Without even an actual threat from a corporation, our politics, as a result of this ruling, will favor corporate interests over the public interest to a far greater extent than existed when the ban on corporate spending in our elections remained in place.

Our ultimate goal is to pass a Constitutional amendment that restores our democracy to the people and strengthens America. Americans have amended the Constitution twenty-seven times in our nation’s history. Indeed, beginning in the post-1910 Progressive era, we have ratified amendments in every decade of the 20th century, except the 1940s and the 1980s. Amending the Constitution should not be taken lightly. However, when our democracy is threatened by nefarious forces, we have little choice but to use the amendment process to protect the survival of our great nation.

Best of luck, and we look forward to viewing your entries.
  1. Free Speech For People is not obligated to select a winner in this Competition.  Selecting a winner is at the sole discretion of the Sponsor of this Competition.  The Sponsor will only select a winner if it receives a submission that it deems appropriate to accomplish its goals. 
  2. The Sponsor is not allowed to use material, for any purposes, from non-winners.
  3. This Competition can be extended 90 days by the Sponsor if the Sponsor did not      receive more than 100 submissions or if the Sponsor did not find a winner amongst the material submitted at the close of the Competition.  
  4. All submitters are subject to Idea Marketplace’s Terms of Service. 
  5. Idea Marketplace is not liable or accountable for any material that does not get purchased or used. 
  6. All rights to material not used in this Competition are retained by the original submitter.