Friday, January 22, 2010

That Supreme Court Decision

No, not Roe v. Wade, although this is the anniversary of it, God help us. But I mean the one yesterday. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations can give unlimited amounts of money and aid to political campaigns.

You have to stop and ponder that a while before all the implications hit you.

Why would you and I ever contribute to a political campaign again? A big corporation can donate more than all of the individual American people combined - in a single check. And the corporation perhaps will not even be American-owned.

Why would you or I ever bother to volunteer for a candidate again? Nothing we can contribute can outweigh or even compare with what a large corporation (or group of corporations) can do.

Churches, too, if they are incorporated, can donate as much as they like and can raise. And mosques, receiving limitless money for this purpose from, say, Saudi Arabia.

Why would a candidate ever refuse corporate money, when it's perfectly legal and without it he is dead in the water? Worse, if big corporations are against a candidate, they have the wherewithal to destroy him via massive negative propaganda.

How long will it take before every politician from mayor to governer, senator and president, will be owned lock, stock, and barrel by some large corporation(s)?

And then what? Which congressman or senator will vote to overthrow the corporatocracy established yesterday? That would be instant political suicide.

Perhaps another Supreme Court will eventually overthrow this terrible decision? No way. Future justices are going to be appointed by presidents who are corporate agents.

It's not as though this hadn't been going on for a long time already. But now it's legal and now it will be happening on a virtually unlimited scale. I suppose there's a certain poetic justice to it all, seeing as we've tolerated it all these years. Seeing as we've almost all just taken it for granted and for normal that "money speaks". Seeing as we've seen how candidates lie and lie and lie, and we still vote for them. (I was brought up to believe voting was my civic, almost sacred, DUTY as an American. But there is no duty, much less any sacred one, to vote for a crook. So when they're all crooks, we ought not vote for the one we perceive as the lesser crook. We ought to withhold our mandate from any of them.) "Put not your trust in princes, in sons of men, in whom there is no salvation."

I've been waiting to see when the democracy we've known in this Republic would be formally ended (it having unofficially ended years ago). And I believe yesterday was the day.

The optimistic note, if you can call this optimism, is that this sort of corruption can never stand for long. The rot eventually causes the whole edifice to collapse.

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.


Chris Jones said...

The difficulty with your arguments in this post is that they do not address the constitutional issues that the Court had to decide. It may very well be a bad idea to let corporations contribute to political campaigns; but we can pass laws against such bad ideas only if the Constitution allows it. In this case, the Court has said that the Constitution does not allow it.

The problem is that the first amendment right to free speech applies to associations of persons (such as corporations and labor unions) just as much as it does to individuals. So as much as we might like to, we can't restrict the right of corporations and labor unions to express themselves by contributing to the candidate of their choice.

Once we start deciding who is and who is not worthy of free speech protection, the first amendment is a dead letter. And there is nothing democratic about that.

scott m said...

The underlying problem is the utter legal fiction that a corporation is in any sense a "person." However, the question of what will happen is easy to answer. All we have to do is look back at the abuses of the latter part of the 19th century that led to the 1907 in the first place.

Let's pray that our Teddy Roosevelt and Progressive movement comes sooner rather than later.

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

When you don't learn from history, you are doomed to relive it.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

The problem, I agree, is to consider a corporation the same as a person. That's bunk.

And it's a big, big stretch to consider that "freedom of SPEECH" means ability for a corporation to control elections.

The trouble with this is that in the name of free speech, the free speech of individual Americans has been swamped, eclipsed, made of no effect. How will you exercise yours, and what will that mean in politics? Zilch.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

It reminds me of a joke Yakov Smirnoff used to tell, back in the days of Reagan and Brezhnev:

Americans are so proud of free speech. Is nothing. Here in Russia, we, too, have freedom of speech. An American told me, "I can walk right into Reagan's office, pound my fist on the desk, and say, 'I disagree with your policy!'"

I can do the same thing. I can walk right into Brezhnev's office, pound my fist on the desk, and say, 'I disagree with your policy!'"

Of course, you Americans are also free
after you speak, which is a nice feature...

Sarah in Indiana said...

Hmmm, but those associations of people were already free to speak through PACs. And those individuals who had associated as corporations or labor unions could always speak freely as well.

I agree with Scott M. the legal fiction of the corporation as a "person" seems to be the heart of the matter. It's not actually considered an association of people but a separate legal entity. And that's what's bunk. Are we going to grant them citizenship and the vote too?

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Why not?

Yes, that's the nub of it.

That and stretching "freedom of speech" beyond recognition - destroying it in the process, by making it (for individuals)perfectly irrelevant.

Anam Cara said...

I not only find this ruling scary, I am also appalled that it was decided by those we consider the "conservative" members of the court.
If this is what the conservatives do, what would a liberal court decide???

Weekend Fisher said...

I don't particularly like the thought of corporations and labor unions and such funneling massive contributions that dwarf my own. But neither do I like the thought that we would ban them from doing so. It's a free country. (We put a period there, not a "but...", don't we?) I think there is some justice in seeing that freedom of speech applies across the board. I don't think it's necessary to see a corporation as a "person" in order to allow that free speech applies more broadly than to just individuals.

For example, if we were in a situation in which employees were making $1.00 a day (like they do some places), would we really want a law in place preventing labor unions from saying exactly who had the most labor-friendly policies in their eyes?

And if we were living in a situation in which massive numbers were out of work, would we really want a law in place preventing large employers from saying exactly who had the most job-growth-friendly policies in their eyes?

Though I don't put that much stock in ads; maybe that contributes to my not being too concerned who's paying for them. I've also seen any number of moves to restrict free speech as far as who can say what; I'm generally against them. ("Fire" in a crowded movie house excepted. Also the libel/slander type speech, seems properly illegal to me.)

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Anne, while I agree with you, there is a distinction between being allowed to run your own ads stating your own opinion and donating directly to a campaign.

Of course, as I wrote, the whole bugaboo here is the idea that money is influence. THAT is what is wrong. If money were not influence, that is, if our moral standards were what they ought to be, then there'd be little problem, if any.