How does that sound to you?
"...that we here highly resolve . . .
that government of the
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.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.
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.
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."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.
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.
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.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.
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.
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 ...All the more reason, I say, to get this ball rolling immediately. Kudos for Congresswoman Donna Edwards for her early response:
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.
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.’’