BY DAVID PERRYMAN
In 1969, Monday evenings on CBS meant the second season of Mayberry RFD. However, Dec. 1, 1969 was a stark exception. On that night, at 8:00 pm Central Time, in lieu of a half hour of the continuing courtship of Sam and Millie, the network went to a live remote at Selective Service headquarters in Washington, DC with CBS correspondent Roger Mudd.
That evening an estimated 850,000 young men aged 19 to 26 [and their families] sat on the edge of their seats as Rep. Alexander Pirnie, R-NY, drew a blue capsule from a hopper full of 365 other blue capsules. That first capsule contained the date “Sept. 14.” One by one, each capsule was drawn and each contained a date that was posted one by one in the order drawn on a makeshift bulletin board until the final date, June 8, was drawn.
Five days earlier, on Nov. 26, 1969, President Nixon had signed Executive Order 11497 detailing the lottery process for which young men would be drafted in 1970. Ultimately, only the men whose birthdates were among the first 195 drawn were drafted.
Eerily reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s 1948 short story, The Lottery, the president’s order did attempt to provide an equitable process for the selection of young men for the draft from 1970 through 1972.
For nearly 250 years brave men and women voluntarily and through periods of conscription have protected liberties for all citizens. Not least among those liberties is freedom of speech.
However, today, our nation is under siege. Elections are being purchased by corporations that claim that their money is their speech. Their money is corrupting the system and our representative democracy will not survive unless we reverse this trend.
It is imperative that all Americans know about a U.S. Supreme Court case named Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That case holds that campaign contributions from corporate treasuries may not be restricted and any limitation on corporate money in politics would violate the corporation’s “freedom of speech.”
If you and your children do not know about that case, then you are unaware of the greatest single danger to our freedom, bar none.
Our founding fathers never intended for corporations to have personhood. English corporations had extracted wealth and dominated trade. For 100 years after the American Revolution, controls set up by our founding fathers worked to limit runaway corporate power. Corporations could not play the stock market and were allowed to own only so much property as they needed to conduct business. Corporations were not allowed to influence elections or public policy.
When corporations broke the law, they were terminated and their owners went to jail. They could not evade taxes by moving money offshore.
Today, political power has shifted from the people to corporations. Presidents and congressmen, governors and legislators are beholden to corporations that have the money to limit and control information and manipulate voters.
Corporations serve a valuable role, but no corporation ever served in the military or lost a child to a war.
We face a battle for the heart and soul of America. Freedom of speech belongs to men and women of flesh and blood like those whose future swung in the balance as they listened for their birthday to be called on that cold winter night in 1969.
– David Perryman, a Chickasha Democrat, serves District 56 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives