Books

Corporations and American Democracy
Recent Supreme Court decisions in Citizens United and other high-profile cases have sparked disagreement about the role of corporations in American democracy. Bringing together scholars of history, law, and political science, Corporations and American Democracy provides essential grounding for today’s policy debates.

Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want
Americans are distraught as tightly held economic and political power drowns out their voices and values. It’s not the magnitude of a challenge that crushes the human spirit. It’s feeling powerless—in this case, fearing that to stand up for democracy is futile. Legendary Diet for a Small Planet author Frances Moore Lappé and organizer-scholar Adam Eichen offer a fresh, surprising response to this core crisis. With riveting stories and little-known evidence, they demystify how we got here, exposing the well-orchestrated effort that has robbed Americans of their rightful power. But at the heart of this unique book are solutions. Even in this divisive time, Americans are uniting across causes and ideologies to create a “canopy of hope” the authors call the Democracy Movement. In this invigorating “movement of movements,” millions of Americans are leaving despair behind as they push for and achieve historic change. The movement and democracy itself are vital to us as citizens and fulfill human needs—for power, meaning, and connection—essential to our thriving.

Taxation Only With Representation
This book is the first comprehensive discussion of corruption in campaign finance from the viewpoint of a political conservative. In this book, Richard Painter discusses how our money driven campaign system undermines the vision of our Founding Fathers and just about every principle that conservatives believe in. Painter then lays out a plan for reform that conservatives, and the Supreme Court, will embrace: defining the government’s right to tax its citizens in a way that will give each citizen a real voice in funding campaigns for elected officials. Forward by John Pudner.

American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper
From the groundbreaking author team behind the bestselling Winner-Take-All Politics, a timely and topical work that examines what’s good for American business and what’s good for Americans—and why those interests are misaligned.

In Winner-Take-All Politics, Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson explained how political elites have enabled and propelled plutocracy. Now in American Amnesia, they trace the economic and political history of the United States over the last century and show how a viable mixed economy has long been the dominant engine of America’s prosperity.

Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy
In Captured, U.S. Senator and former federal prosecutor Sheldon Whitehouse offers an eye-opening take on what corporate influence looks like today from the Senate Floor, adding a first-hand perspective to Jane Mayer’s Dark Money.

Americans know something is wrong in their government. Senator Whitehouse combines history, legal scholarship, and personal experiences to provide the first hands-on, comprehensive explanation of what’s gone wrong, exposing multiple avenues through which our government has been infiltrated and disabled by corporate powers. Captured reveals an original oversight by the Founders, and shows how and why corporate power has exploited that vulnerability: to strike fear in elected representatives who don’t “get right” by threatening million-dollar “dark money” election attacks (a threat more effective and less expensive than the actual attack); to stack the judiciary—even the Supreme Court—in “business-friendly” ways; to “capture” the administrative agencies meant to regulate corporate behavior; to undermine the civil jury, the Constitution’s last bastion for ordinary citizens; and to create a corporate “alternate reality” on public health and safety issues like climate change..

Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It
American democracy has become coin operated. Special interest groups increasingly control every level of government. The necessity of raising huge sums of campaign cash has completely changed the character of politics and policy making, determining what elected representatives stand for and how they spend their time. The marriage of great wealth and intense political influence has rendered our country unable to address our most pressing problems, from runaway government spending to climate change to the wealth gap. By Wendell Potter.

When Money Talks: The High Price of “Free” Speech and the Selling of Democracy
Special-interest money is destroying our democratic process. But now that the Citizens United decision has thrown out campaign spending limits as abridgments of free speech, Americans want to know what they can do about it. Derek Cressman gives us the tools, both intellectual and tactical, to fight back.

Madison’s Music: On Reading the First Amendment
It turns out that everything you learned about the First Amendment is wrong. For too long, we’ve been treating small, isolated snippets of the text as infallible gospel without looking at the masterpiece of the whole. Legal luminary Burt Neuborne argues that the structure of the First Amendment as well as of the entire Bill of Rights was more intentional than most people realize, beginning with the internal freedom of conscience and working outward to freedom of expression and finally freedom of public association. This design, Neuborne argues, was not to protect discrete individual rights—such as the rights of corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections—but to guarantee that the process of democracy continues without disenfranchisement, oppression, or injustice.

Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United
When Louis XVI presented Benjamin Franklin with a snuff box encrusted with diamonds and inset with the King’s portrait, the gift troubled Americans: it threatened to “corrupt” Franklin by clouding his judgment or altering his attitude toward the French in subtle psychological ways. This broad understanding of political corruption―rooted in ideals of civic virtue―was a driving force at the Constitutional Convention. By Zephyr Teachout.

Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets
Best-selling author Peter Schweizer conducts a bombshell investigation which reveals how Washington really works: politicians extort money from us, then use it to buy each other’s votes and line their own pockets.

Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America
Fresh from the first $10 billion election campaign, two award-winning authors, John Nichols and Robert McChesney, show how unbridled campaign spending defines our politics and, failing a dramatic intervention, signals the end of our democracy.

Corporations Are Not People
Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It by Jeffrey Clements.

Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It
In an era when special interests funnel huge amounts of money into our government-driven by shifts in campaign-finance rules and brought to new levels by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission-trust in our government has reached an all-time low. More than ever before, Americans believe that money buys results in Congress, and that business interests wield control over our legislature. By Lawrence Lessig.

Greedy Bastards
How We Can Stop Corporate Communists, Banksters, and Other Vampires from Sucking America Dry by Dylan Ratigan.

So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government
In So Damn Much Money, veteran Washington Post editor and correspondent Robert Kaiser gives a detailed account of how the boom in political lobbying since the 1970s has shaped American politics by empowering special interests, undermining effective legislation, and discouraging the country’s best citizens from serving in office.

Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class – And What We Can Do about It
Nationally syndicated radio host and bestselling author Thom Hartmann exposes the covert war conservatives, and corporations are waging against America’s middle class…a war that’s reducing the rest of us to a politically impotent working poor. This book asks: How did this happen? Who’s benefiting? And how can we stop it?

Gangs of America
The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy by Ted Nace. This is available free online here.

Unequal Protection
The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights by Thom Hartmann.

The Elite Consensus: When Corporations Wield the Constitution
Financial and business corporations throw millions of dollars at think tanks, lobbyists and universities, exploiting writers and artists galore. Their assignment? To twist words, gnarl symbols, sell lies, whip people into line. The Elite Consensus fingers the American Enterprise Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Chamber of Commerce, the Heritage Foundation, and many other “educational” corporations, which men of property have unleashed on this planet. The author shows how these corporate con artists teach us our history, elect our representatives, write our laws, define ideas and frame public policy debates. By George Draffan.

Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy
A book of History and Strategy by Dean Ritz (POCLAD).

When Corporations Rule the World
This second edition updates the reader on the deepening human crisis of the global economy. The gap between rich and poor continues to grow, and people continue to exploit the planet. David Korten writes of the new global citizens’ movement of activism in response to corporate globalization, and of civil society groups’ efforts to restructure global economic governance. He transitions from a critical analysis of the new world order to an optimistic focus on the role of spirit and culture in a “civilized” society.