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All too often you’ll hear someone say it doesn’t matter who is elected to office because all politicians are the same.

The Hobby Lobby and Citizens United rulings are just one of many examples showing this line of reasoning to be unequivocally bogus.

Why Hobby Lobby and Citizens United Happened

Because Supreme Court Justices are nominated by the President (and no, it’s not the president of some major multi-national corporation, as might appear to be the case these days), that pick is based on whether the appointee has a similar mindset. Should the Senate confirm this nomination, the world view of that President will continue to impact the country long after his or her term expires.

Note how the political leanings of the current Supreme Court Justices correlate with those of their appointing Presidents:

Although it is true that the Justices are bound by the Constitution in rendering their rulings, they can put their own spin on the “Supreme Law of the Land,” which is why many of the decisions of the Roberts Court have been textbook right-wing. This has resulted in an onslaught of pro-Big Business, pro-Fundamentalist Christian 5-4 rulings by the Conservative majority.

It is thus small wonder the Court’s majority sided with Citizens United in promoting corporations to “people” status with the right to heave unlimited amounts of cash into political campaigns.

Since s/he with the most money typically wins in elections, it’s easy to see how our Democracy is being corrupted. Despite the fact that other industrialized countries are becoming more Progressive and middle class-oriented, this country is moving toward the far right of the political spectrum where mega-corporations and the ultra-rich have far too much power at the expense of the middle class. Hence the burgeoning rich-poor gap, which is now greater in the U.S. than any other industrialized nation.
It is also a no-brainer that the five right-wing Justices would defy the Constitution’s First Amendment prohibition against government-sponsored religion and rule in favor of Hobby Lobby.

The Fundamentalist Christian arts & crafts corporation now has the right to hold “values” and legally impose its biblically-inspired discrimination against women in not providing birth control or abortions in health insurance plans – never mind that these “values” apparently don’t extend to its retirement funds, where Mother Jones recently uncovered Hobby Lobby’s numerous investments in companies producing abortion and contraception-related products.

The Mid-Term Elections are Where We Have the Power

The typical laissez-faire attitude Progressives have held toward right-wingers these last 30 years has just encouraged them to become even more radical. But although the Presidential election is still a couple years away, the upcoming 2014 mid-terms are still where Progressives can make massive changes.
Americans with Progressive opinions are in the majority and we have a good chance of getting the next generation SCOTUS to review, and possibly reverse, Hobby Lobby and Citizens United, but only if we

1)    vote, and
2)    help get out the vote.

In the case of the Senate, political makeup matters not only because they hold confirmation hearings with regard to Supreme Court Justices and vote on proposed legislation, but they also confirm presidential appointees to important governmental posts including the head of the EPA and Health and Human Services Departments as well as the Attorney General.

House races are also critical. It is the political apathy by Progressives that resulted in a Republican majority in Congress in the last election. The “Party of No” has helped stymie the efforts of President Obama, other Democrats and moderate Republicans.

Luckily this has served only to slow, rather than stop, the economic recovery and it is now broad-based, with the highest job growth on record, quickest drop in unemployment in 30 years, heightened consumer sentiment, a lower deficit, etc.
Why the Progressive Majority Has to Work at Getting Out the Vote

Progressives outnumber Conservatives, but there are still many challenges in getting out the vote:

•    Republicans traditionally have the advantage during mid-terms since they are much better at herding their devotees to the polls. The saying “nothing unites like hate” is one motivating force in this case.

•    We are already seeing repercussions with the recent (and likely calculated) evisceration of the Voting Rights Act by the five right-wing “activist” members of the Supreme Court, negatively impacting voter participation of minorities and the poor thus hitting Democrats the hardest.

•    Political action committees have swelled into behemothic proportions, called SuperPACs, and so the “people” with the megabucks – corporations – also have the resources to brainwash voters with a bombardment of negative, and often untruthful, TV campaign ads.

•    You can see this in swing states particularly, and the ads can be effective since studies show Independents to be among the least politically sophisticated.

Although Democrats are also recipients of corporate largesse, it’s mainly the Party of Big Business that benefits due to their low-tax, anti-union and lax environmental control policies.

For example corporate moguls Koch brothers have dumped hundreds of millions into the campaign coffers of Tea Partiers and other Republicans.

This is also likely a factor in how union-buster Governor Scott Walker was able to survive a recall effort though signatures for his ouster numbered over one million.

Easy Ways to Stimulate Voting

Two powerful tools are the Progressive Voters Guide and the nonpartisan site VoteSmart.org, the latter of which makes registering and voting very simple. It also helps assess a candidate by offering voting records, issue positions, ratings and campaign finance information on “All politicians. Instantly.”
Other ways are to:

•    Register voters and/or pass out absentee ballots.

•    Post opinions, tweets or write editorials to let others know there are people
holding the same views, which is a big motivator because it builds hope for change.

•    Forward national and state political scorecards of candidate voting records concerning the rights of the middle class and poor, LGBTQ, women and nontheists, or organizations dealing with the environment, animal rights, etc.

•    Support Progressive SuperPACs like Credo or The Freethought Equality Fund, the latter of which backs candidates supporting church-state separation.

•    Consider holding an intervention for a friend thinking of voting Republican. Find out what that friend’s values are and use scorecards or VoteSmart.org to see if his/her values match up with the voting record of the candidate in question.

•     Supplement corporate media sources with quality non-corporate sources such as Alternet, truthout or Mother Jones, or foreign sources like BBC and pass along the links. This is important because seven mega-corporations now deliver the bulk of our primetime news, which presents a problem because they (understandably) fail to report in any depth Progressive attempts to reign in corporate power as well as the problems with Citizens United since they rake in billions in campaign ads. The mainstream media also neglects to cover to any great extent the latest political atrocities of congressional Republicans. Since we can’t solve problems if we aren’t aware of them, independent media will fill in the gaps in our flow of information.

No extreme on the political spectrum – whether it be too far right in favoring corporations and religious fundamentalists at the expense of the middle class and moderates, or too far left in favoring the worker and prohibiting religion at the expense of business and the faithful – is in this country’s best interests.
But the saying the “moderate Republican has become an endangered species” gets truer by the day and by casting our ballots for Democrats, voters can show them how their extremist stance in favoring corporations and Christian Fundamentalists over the middle class, religious moderates and the fastest growing group, the irreligious “nones,” has become a liability.
We can move the needle back towards the middle of the political spectrum. And as the 99% we have the numbers – we just need to get off our easy-going butts and vote.

Got any further ideas on getting out the vote? Please feel free to send me a message here at the Kos, @SecularSchoolT on Twitter or comment below.

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