I have mentioned in previous blogs that the “Citizens United” decision that was handed down from the Supreme Court recently will almost certainly change the way the political game is played. That may be an understatement. A recent story tells us that:
An infusion of millions of dollars, unlike anything we have ever seen before may now be the single biggest force in American politics. Some of the players are well-known, such as conservative activist and former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business interest group long active in politics.
There’s no mention here of the Koch brothers, but their names should be at or near the top of the list. These are all people who, quite frankly, plan to buy themselves a government. They will do it by putting millions of dollars in selected candidates’ pockets and then calling the shots to guarantee they get the kinds of laws and protections they regard as a necessary return on their investment. The plan is clear. What is not yet clear is how much it will change the political landscape. But it will be radically altered, of that we can be certain.
I have also mentioned in previous blogs that the Constitution (for which I have the deepest respect, by the way) is not equipped to handle the new situation. This was clear when the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, decided that corporations were “persons” and entitled to the same protections and rights as individual citizens, including the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns under the aegis of “free speech.” There are absolutely no grounds whatever in the Constitution for this ruling. It is based on a loose reading of precedents going back to the “Dartmouth College vs. Woodward” case in 1819. The Constitution itself simply ignores the existence of corporations — which is not strange given the times in which it was written when people took seriously such antiquated notions as “virtue” and “the common good.” Looking back from today’s perspective this seems a terrible oversight in a document whose main purpose was to limit the use of power and find a balance that would benefit all. But, again, in the eighteenth century people like the Koch brothers had not yet accumulated their billions.
In any event, the Court’s decision has opened the floodgates to corporate millions and removed any nominal controls to corporate spending on political candidates that may have been in place. And don’t think for a moment that the money flow will stop with simply marketing political candidates. Once elected these politicians will be owned by the people and companies that bought them a political office. I have used the ugly word “corporatocracy” before (no, I didn’t make it up) and I will use it again. This seems where we are headed. We shall see. The game is on and those who deal have stacked the deck and have all the chips. Brace yourselves!