Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"United Corporations of America"?

How does that sound to you?
"...that we here highly resolve . . . 
that government of the people corporations
by the people corporations
for the people corporations
shall not perish from the earth.

Thus, the Gang of Five in SCOTUS used Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (CU-FEC) to turn Lincoln's Gettysburg Address on its head. This is a wake-up call for me.

The only easy way out of growing corporate control of American politics and governance is denial. Pretend, as I have for so long, that they're just part of the moving ballast in American politics. As I used to say,

Corporations are just a given part of the American political environment. Just accept corporations as part of the topography and terrain. All they do is tilt the playing field in the Democratic-Republican bowl so it's not quite level. That's all. Get used to it.
Now I see that I was wrong; as wrong as I could be. It's not that corporate establishment represents the topography over which the Democrats and Republicans contest. It's the reverse. It's more like the Democrats and the Republicans occupy front stage in a puppet theater while hidden corporate hands pull the strings. We, the people, think we're activists; actually we are just 'actors'. Actually, puppets.

A blogger who I am reading more and more these days, explained it to me. Curt Day, who calls himself a politically extreme moderate, asked the rhetorical question: The Road To A Corporate Republic: Are We There Yet?

And his answer is that we are well on our way:

It is easy for those of us on the Left to overreact to the latest Supreme Court decision on the appeal of Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (CU-FEC) to overturn limits put on corporate donations to political campaigns. After all, the actions of our government make it all too obvious that corporate interests already outweigh public interests. Wars, bailouts, deregulation, and the lack of enforcement of current laws show that corporations count while people do not. Currently, our government takes care of corporations while expecting us to live off of their benevolence. Thus, what we have is a democracy, once-removed.

For Corporations to keep their preferred status with our government, they must silence potential critics and foes. This silencing is not done through force by muting protesters, but by anaesthetizing and inoculating the public from the virus of dissent by creating dependence. Enough must be made dependent on corporations so as to relegate criticism. We should note that if at this point, you replace corporations with government, you get the Conservative definition of Socialism.
I don't know what Day means by this. Conservatives think of socialism as a four-letter word. Does the author mean that, in order for socialism to be acceptable, government must engage in corporate socialism or corporate welfare? That must be what he means. Since corporations are now deemed as persons, it's not a far reach to see them expecting to collect welfare checks.

Cay continues,

We should also note that Conservatives do not object to the inevitable authoritarian rule that comes from such dependence as long as those in charge come from elite pockets of the private sector known as "The Achievers." In addition, we should realize the danger that the Left sees in this private sector authoritarianism. That danger is that corporate rulers are not accountable to the public through elections. The Conservative response is "Duh, that is why we call it a Republic."

The two parties which must be made dependent on corporations are government officials and citizens. It is obvious how government officials are made dependent on the government; it is through bribes both legal and illegal. Legal bribes come from lobbyists and the benefits they bestow. Other legal bribes come in the form of job offers after one's government service is finished. But perhaps the primary way our elected officials were made dependent on Corporations is through campaign financing. If candidates cannot not win elections without corporate financing while they can win without public financing, then corporations own the candidates--regardless of their political party affiliation. Note that votes are secondary to selecting our Congressmen and Presidents because the voters are so blindly committed to supporting a two-party system.
Here I feel compelled, as I have so often before, enter my skepticism about the plausibility of salvation by 3rd party. I don't think voters are blindly committed to a two-party system. Most voters I know, vote for 'the lesser of two evils': if there were a 3rd party, they would merely vote for the least of three evils. But the real problem with freedom of political speech & press being  guaranteed to corporations by the SCOTUS, is that any 3rd party would eventually resort to corporate patronage as soon as it attained prominence. The more plausible a 3rd party became as an alternative to one or both of the traditional parties, the more it would seek and find corporate sponsorships. Any 3rd party will eventually become infected with the same corporate virus which afflicts the current parties.

Day continues,

Corporate ownership of our candidates have been threatened in two ways this millennium. The first threat came through campaign finance reform that "limited" what corporations could provide. The second threat came in the 2004 Democratic primary races. Howard Dean was raising substantial support from individuals through the internet. If candidates became financially dependent on the public, they would no longer be under corporate control. Thus, we have the just recent lawsuit and Supreme Court decision that removed the anchor that weighed down and kept corporate ownership of candidates from soaring.

This Supreme Court decision neither introduced anything new nor did it provide an ominous sign for the future. Rather, this Supreme Court decision merely nipped a possible problem in the bud, it stopped citizen influence over elected officials before it could get started. With a compliant and conforming electorate, all that is left for corporations to control government is to put them on the payroll. Once that is done, government will then pass the necessary legislation that allows a net profit to result from this venture. We should also note that once corporations can up the ante in campaign contributions, the resulting rising costs of such campaigns will remove them from depending on individual contributions--though such contributions will always be accepted in order to boost the egos of the contributors by making them feel like they were a significant part of the election.
As Day suggests, the danger was present all along. Now, as a result of CU-FEC, the process of corporate takeover of American politics will only accelerate. Soon corporate hegemony will become 'too big to fail'; if it is not already. Somehow it must be stopped in its tracks. Reversing CU-FEC is a number one priority.

It can only be done through a constitutional amendment. As Robert L. Borosage says today in Taking Elections Back From the Corporations and the Constitution Back from the Gang of Five, what is needed is,

A broad coalition of groups are joining together to push the drive for the amendment ...

This should lead to campaigns in every state to pass the amendment - and force legislators to decide which side they are on: Should corporations be guaranteed the same free speech rights as American citizens?

The Supreme Court's decision - imposed by the gang of five activist conservative justices - is wrong on the law, wrong on the history, wrong on the principles of a Republic (as opposed to the interests of Republicans). Scorning decades of precedent, and dozens of settled federal and state laws, the right-wing majority imposed a power-grab every bit as egregious as the decision in Bush v Gore that made Bush president by shutting down the vote count in Florida.

If citizens begin to understand the stakes, then this decision may well backfire on the Gang of Five and their conservative allies.
All the more reason, I say, to get this ball rolling immediately. Kudos for Congresswoman Donna Edwards for her early response:

Here's the Text of the 28th Amendment:


‘‘SECTION 1. The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, Congress and the States may regulate the expenditure of funds for political speech by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity.
‘‘SECTION 2. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.’’


  1. Democracy was sold down the river with this ruling. I posted several threads about this. I am still livid over this. The mothers milk of politics is money. Which members of congress, be it dem. or repub, will have the political will to stop this. Their main objective is to get re-elected, not to govern, and think of the well being of its citizens. The system is broken, and this SCORUS ruling proved it. There is no longer any reason foe any one to be in denial over The Fascist Corporate States of A Once Great America.

    China and other countries with their sovereign wealth funds will now be able to buy what they wish. The liquidation of our left over assets will begin in short time. ChiMeriKa will be reality very soon.


  3. Welcome to the world of the eventual power, one worldwide currency...

  4. Thank you so very much (little), Zone-Man, for showing me this iconic scene from Network. Since that film came out in 1976, you're implying I've been in denial about Corptocracy for more than a quarter century. I so appreciate this comment. (not!)

    Now, I'm scratching the back of my head, thinking how I can get even with you!

  5. The Repuglickers are selling us out, as we always expected them to...

  6. Yea, that scene was quite scary, it rings true

  7. Alternatively...register yourself as a corporation and then you rule!


  8. Regarding your first question, you are correct regarding the conservative view of socialism. Then again, conservatives have an overly simplistic and, thus, inaccurate definition of socialism. They call statism socialism and therefore define any increased state control over over the private sector socialism. My point regarding your first question is that Conservatives don't mind the loss of freedom and more authoritarian rule as long as it is done by elite centers of power in the private sector. Conservative acceptance or rejection of authoritatianism depends on who is in charge.

    There is an anti-statism form of socialism that believes in advancing democracy to more areas of life, such as the workplace and the community, which Conservatives strongly oppose.

    In addition, the practice of our gov't paying corporate welfare is a deeply entrenched practice (see and

    Finally, 3rd parties are essential for changing our gov't. Limiting our parties to just allow allows business to own our gov't. In addition, limiting our choices to just two options limits our thinking capacity to seeing just two sides of every issue when in reality, there are often far more than two sides.

  9. Representative Donna Edwards and Chairman John Conyers have introduced an amendment to the Constitution. Rep. Donna Edwards quotes Justice Lewis Brandeis:

    "'We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.' It is time we remove corporate influence from our policies and our politics. We cannot allow corporations to dominate our elections, to do so would be both undemocratic and unfair to ordinary citizens.

    "The ruling reached by the Roberts' Court overturned decades of legal precedent by allowing corporations unfettered spending in our political campaigns. Another law will not rectify this disastrous decision. A Constitutional Amendment is necessary to undo what this Court has done."

  10. Judiciary Chair Conyers:

    "The Supreme Court's idea that corporate political is no different than an individual citizen's political speech was not the law when the Constitution was written, was not the law before the Supreme Court's decision two weeks ago, and should not be the law in the future."

  11. Representative Edwards makes my case better than I do, I.P.! (Of course she does!) I've signed the petition. Have you?

  12. This is a Petition where they don't ask for a contribution! Rare! They just want your real name and zip!

  13. VERY well done, Vigilante!
    Great minds think alike: in my Jan 21 post "Hello, CSA, R.I.P. USA" I, too, decried the latest (and worst ever) SCOTUS decision. In it, I referred to the Corporate States of America and the felonious five, but, of course, we're on exactly the same wavelength. I love your flag and the way you've portrayed the Gang of Five. That just about says it all, sadly!

  14. Here's what I see as a big problem with the U.S. Congress: lack of party discipline.

    I'll try to be brief.

    In my country, parliament has party discipline. Party caucuses decide how members will vote; members are expected to vote their caucus's positions, at least on the important (mostly money) matters.

    In the United States, there's no party discipline. Congress members can vote as they wish and still hold membership in the Dem or Repub caucus.

    One result is that U.S. lobby groups (mainly business) are free to use their "influence" on each and every member of Congress. They can buy each member's vote on an individual basis, which is not something you can do with Canada's parliamentarians since they must still vote with their caucus.

    That's one reason why Congress is so corrupt. Not the only one, but I think it's an important one.

  15. Great minds, Vig. We posted the same video today.

  16. As always, great observations, impassioned writing and clarity of thought.

    And, as always, great comments from your readers.

    In this case I believe you are vastly over reacting and have overstated the impact and reach of this ruling.

    Since the two different "cures" being considered in Congress won't take effect (if they pass at all) until after the 2010 election, let's watch what happens.

    I have a great deal more faith in the American people than you seem to have.

  17. Wizard, you have many, many positive traits - too many to enumerate here. But in this instance, I have to acknowledge you have mastered the gift of the understatement to a degree of finesse. I have zippo faith in most of my fellow Americans. Especially in their memories.

  18. Rather late chiming in here... and not going to go on and on... I propose the party of UNCorporation...
    I don't think the GOP today is a real 'conservative' party... I think they (largely) morphed into something very hard to pin down ideologically beholding to exactly what the right handed side of SCOTUS just passed. Corrupt corporate legislative whores. Too strong? Too skewed?
    An illuminating post, VIG! :-)