Author Archives: svanderven

Meeting debrief

Last Thursday’s meeting was interesting. Thank you, Collin from FUSE, for explaining the coalition support and legislative advocacy that FUSE WA is busy with year round, and the progressive voters guide and mobilization we see from you around election time.  Thanks, Aaron from the Economic Opportunity Institute, for explaining the think tank work you do on behalf of the people who need it most, providing research and support to FUSE and others. Thanks, Craig from Washington Public Campaigns, for discussing your organization’s mission in the current political climate and where we might be headed.  Some ideas that we batted around include:

  • Create a web based marketplace of ideas
  • Form sub groups chartered with addressing narrower topics
  • Utilize examples that illustrate the human cost of corrupt politics
  • Focus on how people in the past have organized to help themselves (in contrast to reflexively looking to politicians and media, I think)
  • Develop a system for outreach to the dozens of other progressive groups in the area
  • Bond with other progressives through social events–Inside Job, anyone?

Did I miss anything?  Thank you to everyone who was there and thanks for contributing great ideas.  If you have an urge to spearhead one of the above, please contact me so we can talk about how you might go about it.

Sunday through Tuesday MO is offering up a chance to regroup with our progressive neighbors.  If you haven’t gotten an invitation from MO and would like to attend a potluck, please email or call me and I will put you in touch with a host.

Also, I just received an invitation from FUSE to do organizer training in Federal Way Saturday November 20.  If this is something you would like to do, please email me and I’ll hook you up.


Buying Democracy Report Release

Political Action

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR                                        

October 12, 2010                              

MoveOn Members Expose Corporate Front-Group Ads, Spending in Washington State Elections

New report details corporate front group spending for Rossi in WA

On Tuesday, October 12, MoveOn members will hold a press conference to release a new report detailing the amount of money right-wing corporate front groups are spending in Washington elections in support of Dino Rossi.

The report shows expenditures made by organizations that exist to do the bidding of the corporations that fund them.  Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allows unlimited secret corporate spending in politics, front groups funded by Big Oil, financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and others, have been spending tens of millions of dollars in support of Republican candidates. By using front-groups, corporations can hide their electoral spending.

Just last week, two of the biggest-spending corporate front groups, the Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads GPS, came under fire. It was reported that some of the $75 million the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending this election cycle came from foreign corporations, while the IRS was asked to investigate the legality of the spending of Karl Rove’s group, Crossroads GPS, which already spent $18 million this election cycle.

“Washington voters have a right to know who is spending all this money in support of Rossi, and why,” said Jeff Graham, a local MoveOn member.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars are pouring into our state from deceptive front groups set up to hide giant contributions from foreign corporations, Big Oil, financial institutions and other corporate interests. The effects on our democracy are devastating. It’s impossible for ordinary voters here to make informed choices or have our voices heard, and with corporate CEOs and lobbyists shelling out big money to buy misleading ads in support of Rossi, he’s going to owe them. Who’s going to represent ordinary families in Washington then?

WHAT:          Report release on corporate front-group spending 

WHO:             MoveOn members

WHERE:       Seattle Chamber of Commerce, 1301 5th Ave

WHEN:          Noon, Tuesday, October 12th, 2010


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The Other 98%

What would happen if the U.S. Government was beholden to only one interest group–its citizens?  Only 2% of We the People can afford lobbyist representation.  I am not among them, and chances are, neither are you.  What would this country be like if lobbyist activity was restricted much more than it already is?  What if corporations didn’t fund our elections, making the winner beholden to his or her corporate sponsors, and our elected officials could vote their consciences?  What if corporations did not receive the same constitutional protections enjoyed by U.S. citizens, allowing them to buy elections?

Unscrupulous, greedy people have turned our image of government into a cartoon.  The whole concept has been slimed, implying it is “us” vs. “them”.  What happened to, “of the people, by the people, for the people”?  What happened to it is corporate influence.

The conversation we should be having about government is how it can best help us live more satisfying lives.  But this debate has been co-opted by conservative (in this day and age a misnomer) think tanks and TV stations, to name a few things; funded by, guess who, giant corporations who stand to benefit from diverting the government’s limited resources toward maximizing their profits.  Some folks have bought the message that what helps corporate bottom lines will also help average citizens.  These same characters were in control during the Reagan years, the first and second dynasties of Bush, and to some extent the Clinton years.  The economic agenda they implemented has made life for my generation much harder than my parents’.  There are as many harsh realities as there are people–people who can’t afford to buy healthful food and instead get fat and malnourished at the same time by eating fast food (*see Texas), people who are reduced to living off of credit cards to stave off foreclosure, people who face financial ruin because of a family member’s illness, people who can’t retire because the financial meltdown stole their savings.  We know these people.  This is not theoretical.  Poverty and homelessness are ever on the rise.  Compare this with the economics of past decades, when a household required the income of only one adult to stay afloat, retirement was something people could look forward to, and kids who had the inclination and ability could attend college without undue financial burden being inflicted on the family. Government isn’t functioning on our behalf anymore, clearly.  Economic policy, written and voted on by members of congress, created the reality that we live in.  This was no “invisible hand”.
If we resolved that elections should be publicly funded, that the constitution doesn’t exist to protect and promote corporate interests, and that you and I should be as powerful as someone who has enough money to hire lobbyists, our government would then begin to function “of the people, by the people and for the people”.  We would be able to make a living, we’d be able to raise and educate kids.  Instead, we find ourselves mired in this endless economic scramble, watching corporate greed win over and over.

Government needs to exist; in fact, it should be robust, and do our bidding.  I am in support of changing the rules of our Democracy so that it functions on behalf of the Other 98%.

Sandra VanderVen, Seattle MoveOn Council Coordinator