Supreme Court Upholds Oligarchy
By striking down the Vermont Campaign Finance law - a state law limiting how much money candidates for state office can raise and spend on their political campaigns - the Supreme Court once again reified their own corrupt doctrine that money is free speech rather than naked power in the real world.
As a result of this plutocratic dogma, the rich have vastly more "speech" than average and poor Americans combined. This dismal fact is precisely why we live under a plutocracy - i.e., a corrupt oligarchy of money which translates into the on-going power of the few over the lives and freedoms of the many.
Clearly, under the Buckley v. Valeo case dogma, the rich have vastly more "free speech' than the rest of Americans. Nothing could be more deleterious to the interests of the vast majority of Americans, whose ability to contribute and inform is dwarfed by that of the mega rich with their controlling interests in the media and hip-pocket think tanks churning out plutocracy-protecting missives.
As with the Vermont case, even if Congress or other states pass more public finance legislation the Supreme Court's "state's rights" advocates will likely declare them unconstitutional. As for the "unconstitutional" limits on money-speech, we must consider that while the First Amendment reads that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging freedom of speech" major media access today is severely limited and controlled by a powerful few - a situation never contemplated by the founders. The rule fails.
Clearly, our freedom of speech is only as good as our media access and reach. In practice, major media ownership and access is the real free speech, but the people have little of it - and little money and little media equals little representation.
So the First Amendment fails to address our contemporary situation and, as a result, the Supreme Court's doctrine fails miserably in the real world - unless, of course, the idea is to see that oligarchy prevails.
In effect, the people have no way to clean up their politics and prevent plutocracy with its middle-class destroying agenda. Worse, the ruling elite's trap here is easily maintained by but one or two votes on the Supreme Court - and it appears the recent appointees of a court-appointed, vote-stealing, unelected president are inclined to ensure this plutocratic ruse is kept in place.
A few years back, it was the McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" of 2002 that was supposed to clean up the politics of "big money." However, a record $3.9 billion was spent on the past presidential and congressional campaigns, some 30 percent more than the previous cycle. Rather than severing all the corrupting links between big money and politics, the "reform" merely channeled the cash through different political pockets, and with even less accountability. In practice, the McCain-Feingold act served only to make the 2004 election a "showcase for the mega-rich."
Today, any candidates who accept federal matching funds also agree to abide by state and overall spending limits - which have not kept up with the rapid rise in the cost of campaigns. Also, the system wasn't designed for today's front-loaded primaries, in which candidates who raise lots of money in the year before the election are at a great advantage. Thus, by the time matching funds become available, it's nearly too late for them to do any good. In this way everything in the money-is-speech political game redounds to the benefit of corporate-serving incumbents and those with the least scruples in raising money.
Corruption is thus maximized, and democracy is minimized.
In practice, the money-is-speech doctrine is one of the main pillars of Oligarchy (which the USA has long since become) with the others being a corporate controlled press and a private central bank. Within this setup any meaningful, unmanaged, and effective Democracy is simply not possible given a money-uber-alles "free speech" theory - particularly with a corporate, for-profit, control of the very media necessary for new candidates to emerge, survive, and open up the debates.
In short, democracy has become too expensive for the majority.... and so it doesn't exist. In practice, our democracy has become a Potemkin, Truman-world, charade - complete with irrelevant flag-burning, gay-bashing, issues to distract the masses.
As things stand, given today's lack of any substantial public campaign finance system, and media access rules, the first monies to seek office and pay for media must be raised primarily from rich and powerful persons and corporations. Under this system it is no surprise that mega-rich persons and leviathan corporations get the favors they need to maintain their stranglehold over our economy and political system - all while raking in billions in campaign ad revenue utilizing the people's own airwaves.
With no pervasive form of public campaign finance, and the critical fact that we lack a National Initiative process, there is no way ordinary Americans can control their political destiny - with the exception, of course, of small, local, elections which do not influence the national agenda. As things stand, with all the important issues and institutions, the rich and powerful control a candidate's ability to run, get nominated, obtain favorable media exposure, and also define his or her agenda as well.
In this way the rich and powerful get what they want from a corrupt, money-grubbing, Congress and from both candidates and incumbents forced into a sick, money-is-everything, system. It is exactly this corrupt system which keeps so many good people from running for office, and which propels the likes of a Tom Delay into positions of power.
Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say the cesspool of corruption that is Washington today is a direct result of the Supreme Court's "freedom of speech" doctrine. Until the court sees it differently, or the people gain the power to overrule their own representatives and Supreme Court, it is unlikely any substantial change can take place within "our" system of government.
Today, it is a sad fact that only the agendas of the super-rich and corporate giants succeed, as people running for office must attend to their real benefactor's needs in order to get money to run for office and be elected. It is essential for the American people to wake up and realize they have no real, effective, democracy and that the current private financing of campaigns is costing them dearly - in more ways than they realize.
In sum, until the main pillars of oligarchy are dismantled this will continue to be the case. Today we see there is no economic democracy in the USA, let alone any effective democracy given that we remain under the spell of a money-is-free-speech mandate - i.e., one designed to benefit the few and screw the many.