On this 4th of July, we would like share with our fellow citizens the great experience we have had petitioning to put the “Move to Amend” on the Cleveland Heights ballot.
Sometimes we went door-to-door, but on several weekends we got permission from Zagara’s, our community-minded grocery store, to petition in their lobby.
This is how it went: We would politely stop people to ask if they were registered voters in Cleveland Heights. If they said yes, we would explain we were seeking their signatures to put an issue on the ballot this November.
For example, we would say something like: “The ballot initiative says that the people of Cleveland Heights disagree strongly with Supreme Court decisions that have bestowed personhood rights to corporate entities, and also those decisions that have decreed that money is equal to free speech.” We were amazed at how much people knew about these Supreme Court decisions, especially the most recent one from 2010: Citizens United vs. the FEC.
Quite a few people said things like: “Citizens United is the worst thing to happen in this country in a long time.” And “I hope this works.” And “We’ve got to stop them.” These folks made it clear — they believe corporate personhood and big money in politics threaten not only our great democracy, but even our whole legal system.
People signed our petitions as if we were giving away hot dogs and apple pie, with a baseball game being broadcast in the background. Did everyone sign? Of course not. But a great majority of those we asked enthusiastically added their names to our petitions. Many even thanked us.
To quote our Cleveland Heights Move to Amend flier: “Corporate Personhood is not an inconsequential legal technicality. Literally hundreds — perhaps thousands — of local, state and federal laws that attempt to protect our elections, safety and health, environment, and right to organize have been overturned by this erroneous doctrine.”
We hope our local initiative will be on the ballot and pass in November. In any case, we feel like we’ve been celebrating the 4th of July early, thanks to the thousands of Cleveland Heights voters who signed our petitions