Last week I agitated for a national boycott of Target Corporation, because they had helped fund a political ad supporting a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate - Republican Tom Emmer.
Apparently, I was not the only person upset by Target's actions.
NPR picked up the story today in a segment of All Things Considered. Here is an excerpt from the print version:
WASHINGTON — As a Senate vote this afternoon effectively blocked consideration of the DISCLOSE bill that would put restrictions on some special interest groups' political giving, public disclosure of corporate political money was causing controversy in Minnesota.
Target — the high-style discount chain — helped to pay for a TV ad endorsing a candidate for governor. Word of that is causing the retailer some problem.
How interesting that the GOP would successfully filibuster the DISCLOSE ACT on the same day that the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision assumes a "public face", as it were, in the national media - in the form of Target Corporation.
Even though this particular case involves a governor's race in Minnesota, I advocated a national boycott because I believe it will send a strong message to corporations and other entities who are now preparing to fund political ads for all their favorite candidates: Be careful what you wish for.
Tom Emmer is a nightmare. If he wins the governor's race, it will be a disaster for Minnesota. Target's support of a television ad supporting his candidacy certainly got my attention. But in the end, which candidate Target chooses to endorse is not the point.
Had it been the other way around - that is, had Target supported one of the Democratic candidates (highly implausible, but it could happen) - then people on the other side of the partisan divide would be raising a ruckus, and Target would have to answer to them.
As NPR puts it:
It's exactly this kind of story that makes some corporate leaders worry about sending money into the political fray.
This is why I urge anyone who supports the notion that a representative democracy exists only when citizens - not corporate entities - decide the outcome of elections, to continue the boycott of Target and to publicly announce your decision to do.
In addition, I urge you to call or e-mail Target and voice your displeasure in the strongest possible terms. If one high-profile corporation is called to account for sticking its nose into the world of political advertising, it may make others think twice. (To contact Target directly, go here: http://www.target.com/...
When President Obama chastised the court in his State of the Union address for its decision in Citizens United, Justice Samuel Alito was seen shaking his head and mouthing the words, "Not true."
80% of the public agrees that "revers[ing] a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections" is wrong and is bad for our democracy - but Justice Alito says, "Not true"?
Does anyone still believe elections don't matter? Pause for a moment and imagine Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy sitting regally in their Supreme Court robes. Now imagine them all sitting there twenty or thirty years from now. Elections matter.
The DISCLOSE ACT was an attempt to try to counteract what is without question an anti-democratic (with a small "d") decision by our nation's five right-wing Supreme Court justices. Not surprisingly, the GOP blocked it from even being considered.
What's more, in true GOP fashion, Senator Mitch McConnell is accusing Democrats of using the DISCLOSE ACT to try to "rig" the November elections, when everyone and their grandmother and the kid down the street who just finished 5th grade knows that allowing corporations to pay for political ads overwhelmingly favors the Republican Party - and pollutes the democratic process in new and frightening ways.
Despite the ridiculous exceptions written into the bill, the DISCLOSE ACT - if it ever becomes law - might succeed in softening the impact of the Citizens United decision. It contains some good ideas. My personal favorite is this:
Make CEOs and other leaders take responsibility for their ads.
Imagining a corporate CEO looking into a camera and telling millions of people that he paid for a political ad endorsing a candidate who, for example, claims that raising the minimum wage by $1 dollar is a "true form of socialism", is a welcome dose of comic relief.
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