January 21st, 2010: The Day Democracy Died

The news has couched this in terms of "campaign finance", but yesterday's ruling by the Supreme Court was, without any hyperbole, more devastating to the American system of governance than any in recent memory. In essence, the Supreme Court held that corporations could make direct contributions, of any amount, to politicians and political causes. And, there's a punch line, because of the myth of a corporation as a human beings (within the meaning of the 14th Amendment) any governmental attempts to cap, regulate or oversee these contributions was a direct and unconstitutional abridgement of free speech.

This disregards wholly that money is not speech, that a corporation is not a natural natural person (no matter how much the Robber Baron courts of the 1880s wanted it to be), that this opens the trough to every politician to practically be bought and paid for, that this ends the era of publicly-financed and equitable election, and that the interests of the very very few will soon outbid the will of the people.

We all lose in this folks. And, while I'm as pissed off at the Obama administration as I've ever been, he nailed it in the press release yesterday:

With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington--while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates. That's why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.

No clever pictures here, no witticisms, no smart-ass comments, just a question for you. Do you think that your neighbors will ever be able  to outspend Exxon-Mobil to decide whether to clean up your beaches? Can you raise up enough scratch to fund a candidate who, unlike Dow and ADM, believes that dumping millions of tons of chemicals in the air is bad news? Do you have the wallet that can match Wal Mart when a referendum on worker safety, worker conditions and overtime comes before Congress? Do you have the greenbacks to outbid Aetna or BCBS when health care comes before a vote?

We are all losers. And there is a term for a centralized industrial-governmental-business entanglement...it's called, again without hyperbole, fascism. And, if you don't like that term, fuck you, and take it up with Webster's.


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