Striking Back at Limitless Corporate Campaign Funding

If I let myself think about America’s future, I tend to get depressed. I see the world’s most powerful democracy teetering on the edge of a precipice with a frenzied mob of bigots and buffoons about to give it a push. And, if America tumbles, the rest of the world – the Western world, anyway – is sure to follow.

China will most likely inherit the earth. But there won’t be much worth inheriting – not for a long, long while.

But that’s a topic for another time. Today, I am enjoying a glimmer of hope. It’s not much, but it’s a welcome change from the miasma that shrouds the news these days.

The story that brightened my morning is out of Minnesota, where Target and its corporate retail cousin Best Buy are under siege. The reason?

Target gave $150,000 and Best Buy $100,000 to support far-right Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. His website defines marriage as a “union between one man and one woman,” and he is a big fan of an aggressively anti-gay “Christian” rock band. (A band member is quoted as saying Muslim countries that execute homosexuals are “more moral than even the American Christians.”)

The companies’ fat donations were made legally possible by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that frees corporations to spend unlimited amounts on elections.

The ruling is expected to precipitate an unprecedented barrage of right-wing ads during this year’s congressional campaign. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for one, is poised to become a conduit for a flood of corporate money.

The Chamber already is a powerful lobbying force in Washington and has emerged as one of President Obama’s most vitriolic critics. And Chamber President Thomas J. Donohue is reportedly preparing for what he said would be “the largest, most aggressive” campaign effort in the group’s 100-year history.

This kind of power is frightening. It puts the public at the mercy of a rapacious and oppressive corporate culture dominated by right-wing zealots.

But here’s where I found a glimmer of hope.

The right wing is mostly made up of old  (white) folks – leftovers from the Eisenhower generation who yearn for a return to pre-civil rights America. And they are in a tizzy right now, what with a black family occupying the White House and vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard.

Younger Americans are far more more color-blind.

I’ve been worrying that young and “progressive” voters might stay home in November, conceding the elections to the codgers and the goons. But the Target story gives me hope that the progressive elements in American society might not be ready to abandon the fight. It looks as if the youth and liberals are fired up and ready to go – in Minnesota, anyway.

They have organized a boycott of Target and are drawing a strong online following, with such initiatives as petitions and viral videos.

A video of an impromptu musical protest at one Target store is a hit on YouTube, where it has already attracted more than half a million views.

You can watch the video here:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20100820/el_yblog_upshot/shareholders-weigh-in-on-target-and-best-buys-political-giving

You may have noticed how young those protesters are. It makes me think that the codgers might not have the floor to themselves this election season, after all.

I know, as I said, it’s not much. But it’s something. And who knows where it might lead?

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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