To Challenge Corporate Power, Look Up the Money Tree - Action Center on Race and the Economy

Saqib Bhatti: I think that what we really need is a massive redistribution of power and wealth in this country. And I think one of the key challenges we have is when we try to focus purely on legislative answers, we’re not able to get the legislative victories that we need, because at the end of the day, politicians are more beholden to corporations than they are to their voters.

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Since Citizens United, I think, people—you hear much more of [how] corporations run the government—but our campaigns for the most part still target government as if that’s where the power is. Theoretically, that’s where the power is. But we need to look up the food chain, look up the money tree, at why is it that even if we elect the right people, nothing changes.

And it’s because at the end of the day, there are a set of folks who are very, very invested in [the] status quo. And those folks are able to make sure that any changes we get are crumbs, but nothing structurally changes.

And so, I think, the key thing we need is to figure out—the biggest thing—would be: how do we actually chip away at their power? And I think the only way to really do that is by organizing. We need to organize, and we organize with an explicit analysis of who is in power. How did they use race to keep them in power? How do we actually advance policies to build our power in a way that takes away their power?

And to really have this clear power analysis, I think, is the most important thing. And that if we can actually chip away at their power, that’s how we can start to then lay the groundwork for passing the kinds of policy that we need.