Comedian and South Carolina native Stephen Colbert is raising social consciousness in the Palmetto State once again. This time, instead of correcting the long-held misconception that Georgia is the Peach State, he is returning power to the people. Along with the South Carolina Democratic Party, Colbert intends to petition the state’s high court to allow a question back onto the Republican primary ballot asking whether corporations are people, the satirist told supporters Tuesday afternoon.
Colbert, whose faux-conservative persona spawned avery real Political Action Committee aimed at lampooning the purchasing of national politics, says he asked SCDP Chairman Dick Harpootlian to petition the State Supreme Court to reconsider their decision to strike referendum questions from the primary ballot. The court removed the four questions as part of their Beaufort v. Election Commission decision in November.
At issue, Colbert said via email, is a nonbinding effort to determine the rights of corporations in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which essentially ruled that corporations have the same rights as people — including political speech demonstrated through financial donations — and allows these corporate personas to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections.
“The question, which has already been approved by the [Election] Commission and included on sample ballots and some military absentee ballots, asks the people of South Carolina to choose between two options: ‘Corporations are people’ and ‘Only people are people,’” Colbert said, attaching a sample ballot which includes the question.
Why should South Carolina decide? It is as important as the presidential candidate they will select on the January 21st ballot. Speaking of which, the cluster of candidates has been vocal about this very issue. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in August that he believes corporations are indeed people. Several cities around the country have disagreed through nonbinding resolutions, but the South Carolina ballot would be the largest-scale application of the question so far.
“After the citizens of South Carolina declare once and for all that corporations are people, we can move on to other urgent issues facing our great nation,” said Colbert. “In 2016, I hope to include a question on whether Democrats are people.”
The email said Colbert also requested permission to call the SCDP chairman by his lesser-known nickname, “Harpootie,” though he seems to have denied that particular request. So far Harpootie — er, Chairman Harpootlian — has not responded to a request for comment, but a South Carolina Democratic Party spokesperson confirmed the email’s veracity.