By Wendell P. Simpson
Last week, a stacked-deck Supreme Court threw the last shovelful of dirt atop democracy’s grave when it scuttled corporate spending limits on political campaigns.
By a bitterly contested 5-4 vote, the Court’s ruling reverses one hundred years of of legislative efforts to curtail special interest influence over the political process . While the the majority opinion held that the ruling upholds the rights of corporations to express their First Amendment rights, the minority called the ban on spending limits a “corruption of democracy.”
There were no surprises in the Court’s vote. Justices Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas joined Chief Justice Roberts in the majority; Justices Breyer, Bader-Ginsberg and Sotomayor joined Justice Stevens in dissent.
The outcry was swift and vociferous. President Obama, calling on Congress to develop a forceful response to the decision, termed it “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful special interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”
Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, the co-author of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, called the ruling “a terrible mistake.”
Legal experts said they expected a huge shift in the way elections are held, and some suggested that the entire process will be snafu-ed by all-out warfare between labor unions and big business. Grassroots activists also rue the ruling, saying it runs roughshod over ordinary citizens who cannot compete with the huge money corporations can throw at candidates whose platforms are anathema to the aspirations of Mr. and Mrs. Average American.
One Philadelphia area critic called it “the coronation of the corporatacracy..”
With the corporate takeover of American now codified into law, an elitist and sectarian ideological legacy is now fulfilled. This wholesale usurpation of the rights of citizen and the ascendency of the corporate mandate is what the Reaganista-Bush faction promised when they deregulated industry, cut the taxes of the wealthy and stacked the Supreme Court with conservative ideologues.
It means the end of lobbyists—after all, who needs a middle man when capital can now simply buy a politician who will do its bidding? It means that the provisions of Kelo v. New London, another Supreme Court ruling that stripped away the notion of private property ownership as sacrosanct, is subject to the whims of venal public officials who will sanctify the snatch and grab policies of private developers. It means that Wal-Mart can invade your neighborhood and stick a superstore right dab in the middle of what was once your children’s playground because there will be no public debate.
It means that you will be nickel and dimed to death by skyrocketing bank fees and cellphone fees and service charges by virtue of new local ordinances passed by your local representatives who have been bought and paid for.
It means that the people you send to Congress will be beholden to interests that are not in line with your own.
And let’s not forget the influence that foreign owned firms will wield over your life and the politics of America. Imagine, a stockholder in Japan or Germany or Saudi Arabia having more influence over the political process than you or I. Or how about a president owned by Sony or Vivendi or Seagrams, or crazier still, Communist China? Or how about a Senator in the employ of Hugo Chavez? After all, he does own Citgo, an American oil company.
On Wednesday night during his State of the Union address, President Obama challenged America to find its moral and political fiber, to invest in the country’s infrastructure and to make good on our lofty proclamations, but to what avail will it all be if—and when—the powerful and the greedy with special interests get to exercise undue influence by buying politicians who undo that mandate for the sake of a profit motive?
Oh, I say it and I say it again, we’ve been had, we’ve been took, we’ve been bamboozled, hoodwinked, run amok, led astray…