Shut Up and Feed the Poor

Last September, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Citizen’s United vs. the FEC, I wrote a blog (A New Era of Political Equity) articulating what I felt would be the ramifications for nonprofits should the court decide that corporations have First Amendment, free speech rights akin to those of the individual.

Yesterday’s decision, which “rejects limits of corporate spending on political campaigns” now insures that virtually everybody in America, along with corporations and unions, has the right to overtly advocate for, or against, a candidate or incumbent…except for America’s 1.4 million nonprofit organizations/businesses. We alone must remain silent.

Each of us must now consider this reality. In a year in which 36 states will elect new governor’s, and countless cities will elect mayors, we who feed the poor, shelter homeless vets, nurture the elderly, sustain the arts, protect the environment, care for the sick, educate children, etc…must sit on the sidelines and bear silent witness to a process that relies on our work, yet excludes our voice.

There’s a word for this….”wrong”.

And while I for one will work tirelessly to challenge this dynamic, none of us can, or should, loose sight of the fact that we do have power. There are 100 million people who work at, or volunteer with, any number of America’s dynamic nonprofit organizations. Our votes have currency.

We must recognize that we and we alone, are the ONLY force that can provide a counter-balance to powers that would emphasize dividends over citizens.

We must realize that this can ONLY be achieved when set aside historic, understandable, yet detrimental divisions, and finally and firmly stand together. Only from that vantage point will we be able to ask, and insure, that each candidate provides derailed plans for how they would use EVERY asset in the community to achieve their vision for a city, a state or our country.

It could take time, to be sure, to evolve from the cacophony of causes that now mutes our shared potential….but we don’t have the luxury of time. That is why I, for one, am ready to join my voice with yours, and yours, and yours and yours….and I am ready to do it today, so that, regardless of how much money one group spends in a campaign—the community we share will come first.

To that end, I ask you to join me…and all the others who have already signed up for the V3 Campaign, so that the Voice, Value and Votes of the nonprofit sector is heard–legally, and loud and clear–in every election.

  • Guy Arceneaux

    Very erudite comments on this latesty justice travesty. No one has brought up the nonprofit aspect as far as I have seen Mr. Egger.
    I’ll retweet throughout the day.


  • Robert Egger

    Thanks, Guy. I’m stunned by the deafening silence in the face of this decision and the role it allocates for nonprofits. We are the new face of Dread Scott. While I always try to temper my temper…this one begs for a stone, well thrown.

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  • Perla Ni

    Thanks for making this very important point. The Supreme Court’s decision is so disappointing on so many levels. I’d like to see a legal challenge on why nonprofits are excluded from the definition of corporation.

    It would be a great pro bono project for a law firm out there.

  • Robert Egger

    I’ve been working that angle since the Citizens case was heard in September. There have been a few attempts to force the issue, particularly in the final months of the 2008 Presidential race, when ministers linked up to politic from the pulpit. The problem appears that the IRS isn’t taking the bait—they simply want to avoid a test case.

    I’ll keep you posted, Perla….so nice to heard from you. GREAT work at Great Nonprofits!!!

    OH, and here’s a link to another op-ed on this topic, thanks to Jan at Blue Avocado….

  • Ed C.

    It is truly “wrong” that non-profit organizations are relied upon to feed the poor and shelter the homeless, yet their influence has been limited on campaigns that can cause positive change they have worked for. Although non-profit organizations can not influence campaigns financially, the voices of over 100 million people will not be ignored. It is the duty of these 100 million people to use their votes, instead of their wallets, to implement change in our cities, states, and country.

  • Shane Mc

    knowing now how things worked out, i can say it is very disappointing. Corporations have many resources no one else does, so does that mean thier voice will drown out everyone else’s? 100 million is an overwhelming number, if there were a movement uniting all the volunteers and workers, could a change be made?

  • Abby Schneider

    It is a shame that the task of taking care of people in this country is not a priority because of their status. It is in times like these where people should stop and think about the decisions that they are making or contributing to. We are governed by a flawed system but your work and the work of others lets me know that there is still a chance and that optimism is key when feeling helpless in this world. I also support your V3 campaign and wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.