Tammy Baldwin
Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison MICHELLE STOCKER - The Capital Times

MoveOn.org, the online activist group that played an important role in challenging some of the worst excesses of the Bush/Cheney regime, is still around. But it is a much softer organization now.

The group is peddling a campaign to fight corporate influence in Washington -- certainly a noble purpose. They want Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, to sign a pledge to work to:

• Overturn the Supreme Court decisions allowing unlimited corporate spending on elections.

• Support fair elections by providing public financing to grass-roots candidates so they can compete.

• End backroom deals with corporate lobbyists by making all lobbying activity public, and shutting the revolving door between K Street and the government.

In as much as Baldwin has already been working on all these issues in far more specific and aggressive ways than MoveOn proposes, she can certainly sign the pledge.

But Baldwin ought not dumb down her activism when it comes to cleaning up politics and addressing the lobbying excesses of major corporations.

MoveOn is asking too little.

The “ask” for Baldwin should be that she sign on as a co-sponsor of House Joint Resolution 74, a proposal by Congresswoman Donna Edwards, D-Md., to amend the Constitution of the United States so that Congress and the states can regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations seeking to influence political campaigns.

This is not the only appropriate response to corporate influence on our politics and governing processes -- indeed, it is not even the only constitutional response -- but it is an essential one.

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Two dozen House members, including Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers, D-Mich., are signed on.

Baldwin should join them.

That’s the pledge that members of Congress who are serious about tackling corporate power should make.

John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. jnichols@madison.com