Hundreds Rally in Downtown San Diego Against “Citizens United” and for Campaign Finance Reform

by on January 21, 2012 · 17 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights, Election, Popular, San Diego

Several hundred rallied outside the Federal Building, Jan. 20, 2012. Photo by Lowell Waxman.

At least 250 San Diegans rallied on Friday, January 20th, in downtown San Diego against the US Supreme Court case known as “Citizens United”.  It was the one year anniversary of the court decision that gutted campaign finance reform and that has eroded citizens’ rights of freedom of speech.

Organized by Women Occupy San Diego and Common Cause in conjunction with a national group called Move to Amend, the well-attended gathering next to the Federal Building was the largest protest in this city against the Supreme Court decision that has come to represent everything bad in modern American elections.

The three women speakers all strove to have the protest focus on the worst in presidential and electoral politics.  Keynote speaker Marjorie Cohn, law school professor and long-time activist, gave the background to Citizens United and decried how corporations are not citizens as “they don’t pass the belly button test”.  She set the intellectual stage of why we oppose this horrific Supreme Court ruling allowing unfettered corporate monies to corrupt and overwhelm the fragile democratic process.

Tahra Ludwig then gave a very impassioned speech, drawing close parallels between San Diego’s hundred-year-old Free Speech Fight by the Wobblies in downtown San Diego with the harassment that the Occupy San Diego movement has experienced from San Diego police. Ludwig has been an activist with Occupy San Diego, lives in Point Loma, and is in the process of joining the OB Rag.

Tahra Ludwig raises her impassioned voice. Photo - Lowell Waxman.

Rounding out the trio, Lori Saldana addressed the crowd, as she is running for Congress in the 52nd Congressional District, as a former state Assemblywoman. Saldana has been a supporter of progressive issues locally and has identified herself as a Occupy Wall Street enthusiast.

The crowd was blessed with the singing by the group Occupellas – a group of women vocalists supportive of Occupy San Diego, who have rewritten several old songs with new lyrics more in tune with current issues.

The Occupellas sing to the crowd. Photo - Lowell Waxman.

For a mid-day rally during the week, the turn-out at this protest was very good. Kudos to the women who organized this event.  We do need to keep the pressure on against Citizens United – and until it is overturned or replaced – corporate and Super-Pac money in US politics will continue to exercise the loudest voice and drown out those of the citizens.

And true to form, very little corporate press was on hand to record the protest.  In fact, it appears that the “new” U-T San Diego totally ignored the rally.

Also, interestingly enough, yesterday’s rally in San Diego was apparently one of the largest in the nation. (See this report.)

Check out the gallery – most photos were taken by Lowell Waxman (click on image for larger version):

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie January 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I wanted to keep this comment up as an example of what we receive sometimes in our mail.


Roland Richey January 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Wow – the mainstream newssites sure give a totally different purpose for the Occupy rallies from yesterday.


Liz January 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm



Monty Kroopkin January 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Ditto and huh?


Frank Gormlie January 22, 2012 at 10:08 am

One of our admins took the comment down.


Patty Jones January 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I think Liz was replying to a comment that was removed.


Mark E. Smith January 22, 2012 at 2:34 am

People looking for election and/or campaign funding reform don’t understand the system. We have a hierarchical system of government and when you elect good people to a bad system, this is what happens, as a Hungarian town found out:!/368759/Hungary_sliding_away_from_rule_of_law

The funding comes from the top. In a plutocracy or oligarchy, funding is given only to the rich. An elected official who tries to represent the people will simply have their funding cut by the state and federal government.

The problem isn’t how elections are held or who is elected, the problem is the system. As Emma Goldman said a hundred years ago when the good patriotic flag-waving voters of San Diego ran her out of town, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”

The Democrats who have co-opted Occupy San Diego are just like those good patriotic flag-waving voters who ran the anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman out of town a hundred years ago. Comparing themselves to the Free Speech Movement is a total distortion of the truth. These people aren’t Occupiers working in the spirit of direct democracy, they’re capitalist imperialists voting for their own selfish interests and against the global struggle for social and economic justice.

As the Wobblies, who were also run out of San Diego said, “Don’t vote–it only encourages ’em.” Registering voters and making demands on the oligarchy that wants only to murder millions more innocents around the world is not direct democracy–it is supporting fascism and injustice.


doug porter January 22, 2012 at 8:32 am

so to recap what you’re saying: unless people commit to confrontation with the state they are not part of the solution, in fact they are “supporting fascism and injustice”.
how infantile. you’re doing exactly what the State’s security apparatus wants.


Mark E. Smith January 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Doug, your “recap” is inaaccurate and puts words in my mouth that I never said. I didn’t say that people have to commit to confrontation with the state–that’s the position of the Democratic Party protesters in Occupy. All I’m saying is that doing your civic duty to the state by voting to delegate your power to the state constitutes support for the state and consent to be governed by the state. If anyone is infantile, it would be the protesters who vote to authorize the state to bash their heads in, and then complain when the state exercises that authority.


john January 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm

While I think Doug’s position is more level headed I do get the point you’re trying to make. I don’t think we’re too far from each other regarding disillusion with our facade of democracy, one which I felt was accurately summed up in this expose of the role of the Council on Foreign Relations in the machinations behind the 2004 Presidential race:
summarizing, at the end:

“Democracy, Peace, and Justice

We do not have a real democracy in our country. In the current system, elections and political power are for sale to those who have the money and media access to purchase and advertise the candidates they want to see in power. The occasional weak efforts to control money in politics have clearly failed and the media has become even more concentrated and influential. The poster child illustrating this power is “establishment outsider” Howard Dean, the once popular Democratic presidential candidate who was crushed by adverse media coverage, especially by CFR-connected media corporations. Furthermore, the winner-take-all election system without runoffs means that “spoiling” and “lesser evil” voting are built into the structure of the system.

The winner-take-all election system disenfranchises large sections of the electorate, when, for example, a party, group, or person supported by 49 percent of the voters in a district gets zero representation. The Bush administration’s preemptive war doctrine, its disdain for allies, treaties, and international organizations, its refusal to consider or respect the interests of others, its attempts to shred constitutional rights and to justify torture and other illegal and immoral activity all occurred with considerable help from the Democratic Party. These policies have increased anti-Americanism in the Middle East and worldwide. This will translate into significant support for terrorism against the U.S. and its interests even if Kerry is elected and his Administration applies a different set of tactics.

The ongoing question facing the vast majority of people in the United States is how to build a social movement that can effectively put democracy and a peaceful foreign policy on the national agenda. Only then can some of our other key needs be addressed. Something more basic than a mere switch in the means of empire is needed at this juncture in human history, something more fundamental than an imperial agenda dressed in the classic Democratic Party garb of multilateralism, something better than merely fastening a progressive tail to Kerry’s Democratic kite.

What is needed is a mass social movement acting directly and independently in its own name. Only when it is independent can a social movement undertake the kind of bold and uncompromising militancy required to put key issues on the agenda and to effect a fundamental reconstruction of society. People want health care for all, full employment at a living wage, excellent public education, good retirement benefits, the right of workers to freely organize unions, affordable decent housing, ecological sanity, economic democracy, civil liberties, an end to all racism, sexism, and discrimination, fundamental electoral reform, and the democratization of the media. A unified social movement to demand a working people’s agenda needs to be born.”

(a long summary but I think most here will agree with the message)

This obviously continued in 2008, with 201o’s “top 25 censored news stories” including “Barrack Obama’s Trilateral Group White House”. (they being the whitewashed, official arm of Rockefeller’s CFR)

What I want to ask you is can you qualify your position with a practical plan? Most Americans already see OWS as near anarchy. Of course they aren’t but it shows the unwillingness of the majority to support such destructive methods. The thing I’d point out to you is the same I’d say to OWS: Simply tearing it all down is no solution and you won’t get a lot of support, you shouldn’t.

Offer a much better alternative and you won’t have to foment the seeds of destruction to tear down, that will happen on its own.


Mark E. Smith January 22, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I’m not fomenting seeds of destruction or advocating that anyone tear down anything, John. I’m simply saying that those who agree with the goals of that hypothetical mass social movement described in the essay you cite, should stop supporting the capitalist imperialist system.

As for having a plan, I don’t think that is necessary. For example, I lost weight without having a diet, goals, counting calories, or weighing myself regularly. I just stopped eating a lot of unhealthy foods and the weight loss happened naturally. As far as I can determine from my personal experience, if we stop doing bad things, good things happen, even if we don’t have a specific plan or specific goals. Here’s a bit from an essay I wrote some time back on the value of voting:

“In a democratic system, voting is precious and essential. In an undemocratic system, it can be fatal, as it can allow the destruction of the economy, military adventurism, obstacles to basic human rights such as jobs, education, food, clothing, shelter, and health care, and other tragic consequences of allowing government to exercise uncontrolled power rather than vesting power in the hands of the people.”

If something is bringing good results, I’d encourage people to keep doing it. But if it is bringing bad results, disastrous results, potentially fatal results, then I’d suggest it might be a good idea to stop. I apologize if that doesn’t sound very revolutionary, something that people might expect from an anarchist, but it works for me. ;)


Mark E. Smith January 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Here ya go, Doug. This is the government people are voting for, and it doesn’t matter who is President or which party is in power.

This is from noted peace activist S. Brian Willson’s blog.

S. Brian Willson – We are not worth more, they are not worth less.
Category Archives: Brian’s Blog
History: US Military Interventions Against Domestic civil, Racial and labor “Unrest”
January 19, 2012 – 5:28 pm

Between 1775 and 1994, the U.S. military has been utilized by the President on at least 136 occasions to contain and overwhelm labor “unrest” (80 times) and racial or civil “unrest” (56 times). [Sweeney, Jerry K., Ed. (1996). A Handbook of American Military History. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, pp. 3-269]. But “A Report Submitted to […]

By brian | Also posted in Challenging Traditional Patriotism, The Most Dangerous of Rogue Nations: The United States, Uncategorized | Comments


Frank Gormlie January 22, 2012 at 10:11 am

Mark, have you noticed how voting is becoming more and more “illegal”? If voting did not matter, why have the Republinuts been making moves to remove people from the voting rolls, making machines that manipulate the tallies, forcing voters to have ID, and all the other ways they’ve been discouraging Americans from actually casting ballots?

Simple facts undermine your argument. It’s way, way more complex than your simpleton attempt to conjure up classical marxist theory.


Mark E. Smith January 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm

I’m not a Marxist, Frank, I’m an anarchist. I am opposed to centralized government of any type and opposed to oligarchies of any stripe.

The chump change of a few million dollars that the Republicans spend on voter suppression to try to make people think that their votes are valuable, votes which the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 don’t even have to be counted, is a drop in the bucket compared to the billions they spend getting out the vote.

Having spent almost a decade in the election integrity movement, I’m fully aware of the hundreds of problems, most of which would require Constitutional amendments to fix, plaguing our electoral system. Anyone who thinks that a vote which doesn’t have to be counted, can’t be verified, and serves only to delegate power to officials who can’t be held accountable, is valuable just because somebody is trying to take it away from them, doesn’t know the difference between an uncounted vote and a real voice in government. Nobody fought and died for uncounted votes–the struggle for the franchise was in hopes of having a real voice in government.


Frank Gormlie January 22, 2012 at 10:34 am

The U-T finally mentioned the rally in an oblique way in today’s Sunday edition, by noting that candidate Lori Saldana had spoken at a rally organized by the “occupy movement”.


Old Hermit Dave January 22, 2012 at 11:25 am

If we count the number of LIES in official government reports, we will run out of numbers. Me


Old Hermit Dave January 22, 2012 at 11:27 am

WOW– And just why may I ask?


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