The Corporate shills who sold Our Democracy!
The supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Citizens United V. The Federal Election Commission, a campaign finance case, may prove to be as influential in shaping the character of American society as Dred Scott and Plessy V. Ferguson. In the Dred Scott Decision the court declared that “black men had no rights that white men were bound to respect” when the Constitution was drafted. Although Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, a former slaveholder, was historically correct in his opinion, the question before the Court in this case was: Did America recognize black men as men? If so, then the principles of the Declaration Of Independence which spelled out the fundamental values which the Constitution supposedly codified also applies to them. The Dred Scott Decision sharpened antagonistic forces to the point that the country exploded in civil war four years later.
The present decision has opened the doors for big corporations to transform what is left of our participatory democracy into a plutocracy, the outright rule of the rich. If this does not happen it will be due to the high public morality of corporations, who will hasten to elevate the public interests above their greed for personal profit – the very thought of which is heresy to most C.E.O’s. Since the Supreme Court has scrapped a century of legal opinion on the use of corporate money in the political process, and empowered the corporations to directly finance advertisements for candidates of their choice, the voice of the people, those “polish factory workers” and their sons whose interest Justice Scalia has pledged himself to protect, will be drowned out by the clamor of corporate shills in the media. And when you see a political Neanderthals and moral degenerates like Jim De mint and Newt Gingrich praising this as a victory for the people, we can see the horrors that lay ahead for those of us who really do care about preserving the power of the people.
We need not look far to see what this will mean for the political process. The self-styled corporate funded “Tea Party “movement” that has been so influential in confusing and nearly derailing the President’s effort to bring much needed reform to the healthcare industry is exhibit A. These reforms not only address the sickness of our minds and bodies, but also the survival of our economy. Every responsible economist who have studied this question – regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum – believes that the present healthcare system will eventually bankrupt the American economy. Yet it will still fail to provide medical coverage for millions of citizens. Hence the changes the President is proposing will literally rescue the economy and make us healthier as a nation. What could be a more sensible, admirable and Christian goal? But look at the way the corporate lobbyists confused this issue – at an expenditure of a million dollars or more a day. That is just an inkling of what politicians who seek to protect the public interests against the prerogatives of corporate interests will be facing.
While one Republican big wig after another lined up to applaud the Supreme Court’s decision, Democrats see the matter differently. In his dissenting opinion Justice Stevens noted sarcastically:“Under the majority’s view, I suppose it may be a First Amendment problem that corporations are not permitted to vote, given that voting is, among other things, a form of speech.” And Fred Wertheimer, the founder and President of the advocacy group Democracy 21, which has a venerable record of fighting for campaign reform that would limit the role of private money in political campaigns, views the decision as an unmitigated disaster for the American people.
“Well, I think I start off from the standpoint of citizens and the idea that this levels the playing field for citizens is dead wrong.” Says Wertheimer. “What this decision means is major banks, major insurance companies, major drug companies, major energy companies can spend five or $10 million or more directly to elect or defeat a federal candidate. Now, what that means is a member of Congress or a candidate that is sitting there, knowing that if they vote against the interests of these major corporations, they will be blown out of the water by expensive campaigns the likes of which we have never seen.”
I think he’s right! And the implications of this decision for President Obama’s agenda is dire, as members of Congress become frozen with fear in face of this new corporate power to sponsor candidates to run against them. Decisions like these are the reason why it is so important who appoints justices to the High Court: liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans. Every Right-wing kook knows this, but many on the left have yet to learn. This is reflected in their simple minded insistence that there is no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties; crazy talk that helped elect George Bush and thus saddled us with eight years greed, incompetence, reckless foreign adventures, and the present reactionary Supreme Court who passed this horrendous radical right-wing decision.
One response to this judicial disaster is for Congress to pass laws that require immediate disclosure of the source and amounts of all campaign contributions, but a better solution is to keep President Obama in office for eight years – when Scalia will be Eighty – and hope he gets to replace one of the conservatives and change the 5-4 majority that rendered this decision. For there is no question where the President – a brilliant Constitutional law professor – stands on the Supreme Court’s decision to pave the way for corporations to turn the US Congress into what the humorists P.J. O’ Rourke calls “A parliament of whores!”
Harlem, New York
January 21, 2010