Earlier today I posted about the Supreme Court decision that removed ALL restrictions governing corporate donations to candidates for federal office. This decision easily has the biggest implications for the future of America since Bush v. Gore and maybe going back even farther. I can't overstate how much this decision, driven by the clearly hypocritical "non-activist" conservative Justices who have just invalidated nearly a century of laws restricting corporations from undue influence in our government, will impact our democratic system.
Let's look at a practical example of what this decision means.
Let's say that there is a river near my home into which several companies are dumping toxic chemicals. I've complained to the authorities but no one has done anything. So, I decide to run for Congress to do something about the problem. A very American thing to do.
To campaign, I need money, so I look for donations. My neighbors and many people in the town would like to support me. These people (actual human beings) are limited by federal law in what they can contribute to my campaign. That would be $2300 each. I am very lucky and raise $1,000,000 for my campaign. Go me!
When word gets out about my campaign, however, the people running the companies which are dumping toxic chemicals into the river decide they don't want me to win. Well, la dee dah, these people are also limited when donating money to federal campaigns! So it's an even playing field.
Except, as of today, it isn't.
For these people can tap the vast wealth of their corporations to campaign against me. And corporations now have no limits. These corporations can spend ANY amount of money running ads or supporting other candidates. They could spend $100 million if they wanted and, depending on the value of dumping their chemicals, it might be worth that much to them.
$1 million versus $100 million. How do you think I'd do in the election?
The Court ruled on the basis of free speech. But Corporations aren't people. They're legal constructs that have vast resources mere people don't have. They also have interests that are very often contrary to the people that live in their communities. Corporations don't deserve the same free speech rights as actual people.
This decision makes corporate speech supreme. Corporate speech is now worth more than the speech of mere human beings by many, many times.
Not surprisingly, while some Republicans, like McCain and Snowe, have criticized the decision, many more Republicans are showing their contempt for the individual voter, we the people, and hailing this as a victory for free speech.
It's a victory for moneyed speech, actually. It's anti-democratic, it's wrong and if unchecked, will destroy the ability of the people to make our voices heard. This is a victory of the corporation over us, the mere people of the United States of America.
Everyone who values freedom and democracy should be outraged.