Ben & Jerry and How You Can Help Them Un-Clusterfluff Our Democracy
Ben & Jerry’s has a new ice cream flavor called Clusterfluff that sounds absolutely scrumptious. Their website describes the new flavor as follows:
Ever have days where everything’s stuck in a cluster of flub-ups, fubars & snafus? It’s a no-fun phenomenon we thought would be funner if it had its own flavor. Now, when whatever you’re stuck in is making your head spin, just say “Clusterfluff it!” & spoon into a whole ‘nother whirl of caramel-cluster-filled peanut butter & marshmallow lusciousness. Enjoy!
If only eradicating the defects of our democracy–all of the flub-ups, fubars, and snafus caused by the pervasive influence of money in our political system–could be solved with a scoop of delicious ice cream.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s fame recognize that the current legal attacks on campaign finance regulation are also a no-fun phenomenon. In a recent video (above), the dynamic duo discuss the dire consequences of the 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC. In the video, they attack the idea of “corporate personhood” that underlies the majority opinion in Citizens United, which, by extending First Amendment rights to corporations, gives them the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaign advertisements.
Ben Cohen offers some very lawyerly analysis on the issue, saying, “We’re people. I’m a person. He’s a person. We came up with a company called Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc. That’s a corporation. Ben, person. Jerry, person. Ben & Jerry’s, not a person. Ben & Jerry’s is a corporation.” Ben and Jerry argue that allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on advertisements gives them undue influence over which candidates get elected.
I know Parashat Bereshit forwards and backwards, and I know that God created a lot of things, but corporations were not among them. Corporations are a man-made entity. They are an institution created by laws to assist people in amassing wealth. This fact is not meant to criticize the merits of wealth, which can be used to do an enormous amount of good. But just because we designed the corporate structure to help create and, to a striking degree, protect a disproportionate amount of the country’s wealth, it does not follow that corporations should have a disproportionate say over the politicians we elect and the decisions they make. Ben Cohen agrees, explaining, “Democracy is of the people, by the people, for the people, not of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations.”
Because of their commitment to campaign finance reform, Ben & Jerry’s helped launch a campaign called Business for Democracy, encouraging business leaders to express their opposition to Citizens United.
But you don’t have to be a business leader to help combat the role of money in politics. Just last week, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT) re-introduced the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA), which would provide public financing for Congressional candidates. Public financing gives candidates the resources to respond to corporate campaign advertisements, without forcing them to rely on wealthy and powerful interests for contributions. Visit the RAC’s Chai Impact Action Center, contact your elected officials, and ask them to support the Fair Elections Now Act. By doing so, you can help Ben and Jerry eliminate the Clusterfluff of money in politics.