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Reversing Citizens United: stripping the Roberts 5 of power over elections

By       Message Larry Kachimba     Permalink
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The engorged 1% at the top "speak" to power with money in politics skimmed from the profits their political investments bring them. Unless real change is brought very quickly to the corrupt political order that sustains their power, these new rulers will prosper as the stagnant economy continues its jobless descent into a new feudalism for the rest.

The John Roberts majority of 5 assumed control of the Supreme Court in 2006, just in time to protect the casino capitalists from the political consequences of their final burst bubble. Led by Bush's new Chief Justice this gang of 5 promptly consolidated the rule of money over politics. The changes in the rules are thus all headed toward - not away from - a new feudalism. During the past 6 years these five judges have decreed unconstitutional the following election integrity safeguards: 

  1. reasonable state limits on election spending and contributions, Randall v. Sorrel (2006);

  2. restrictions on corporate electioneering for or against candidates under the guise of "issue ads," Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc . (2007);

  3. the federal "millionaire amendment" addressing the use of personal fortunes to buy elections, Davis v. FEC (2008);

  4. prohibition of "independent" corporate electioneering expenditures, Citizens United (2010);

  5. public funding of candidates at a level to match private contributions to opposing candidates, Arizona Free Market Club (2011).

These decisions all employed the surreal metaphor invented in the seminal 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision that money in politics that corrupts democracy is the same as speech protected under the Constitution for the purpose of sustaining democracy.

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Money in politics has since 1976 undermined the consent of the governed and bought distorted policies that relentlessly increase inequality. From tax cuts for the rich to trade policies that export jobs; a war profiteering  MIC to healthcare industry subsidies; financial and corporate bailouts to foreign policy at the service of countries with generous lobbies; agribusiness subsidies to procurement scams; environmental poisoning and global warming to empowering energy and other monopolies, the plundering 1% has left behind a dying carcass of a former democracy in the United States.  The economy that once sustained a middle class essential for a thriving democracy has been gutted.

Policies of the illegitimate government festering in the remains are designed to physically and financially deprive 99% of Americans while engorging the 1% who pay to play.  Their bloated wealth now seeks new similar dining opportunities abroad. Dennis Kucinich says the resulting "massive transfer of wealth [is] a challenge to the legitimacy of the two-party system." Two venal parties vie for their cut of the money they help transfer to the top 1% while illegitimately pretending to serve a majority of the other 99%. As Gore Vidal put it: 

"America has only one political party - the property party. It's the party of big corporations, the party of money. And it has two right wings, one is Democrat and the other is Republican."

The difference between the two parties is that Republicans do what they say while blatantly lying about the effect it will have (e.g. cutting taxes on the rich or deregulating corporate predators will "create jobs"), while Democrats lie about what they will do by talking Democrat and governing Republican (e.g. Obama will tax the rich, change the way Washington does business, oppose the health insurance mandate, regulate Wall Street, restore civil liberties, etc.). Democrats are superior contortionists, tying themselves in knots blamed on Republicans, to avoid disingenous campaign promises that would offend their paymasters if redeemed. In return, mainstream Americans are united in expressing deep disdain for all politicians.

In August 2011 the number polled who approved of Congress was 14%, declining to 9% in an October poll which also found that 89% distrusted government to do the right thing. A June 2011 CNN poll found that 86% of Americans agree that politicians are more influenced by money than by what is best for the country, while 67% believe elections are generally for sale to the candidate who spends the most money. The hard data showing that winners spend over double what losers spend for a seat in Congress supports this view. Polling consistently shows that Americans believe their country is run by and for the rich, and is no longer a democracy of the people. In an NBC poll 76 percent (including 62 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Tea Party supporters) agreed that the current economic structure of the country is out of balance, favoring a small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country, and that America needs to reduce the power of the banks and corporations. A declining number of likely voters, now only 17% , think government even has the "consent of the governed," the Declaration of Independence litmus test for any republic, not to mention a democracy. George III had better numbers.

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To dust off an old word that describes this situation, the Supreme Court has turned America into a plutocracy where money rules. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt famously defined plutocracy as government by the "ideals of so many glorified pawnbrokers" -- the robber-barons of his day.  This era's political pawnbrokers, the 1% who buy elections, are those who hold national sovereignty in hock as they profit from their investments in elections, politicians and and public policy. The people know it. They only lack a clear strategy to deal with it. They are being misled to false solutions by the propaganda of professional activists and corporate media alike.

3. Real Solutions, Fake Solutions

Any strategy must address the source of the problem. The Supreme Court has established the ground rules that sustains this plutocratic political order. A passively corrupt Congress is complicit. The Constitution empowers Congress to prevent the Supreme Court from undermining democracy. But it serves the financial interests and political ambitions of Congress and its dependent political class to not exercise or even acknowledge the power it has to check the Court. They prefer to divert attention to soundbite strategies that would actually aggravate the problem if they could succeed. 

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A creative thinker on matters of public policy and art, and a principal researcher. Current focus of work is on the strategies democracies can use to protect against overthrow by corruption, with immediate attention to the mess being made by (more...)
 

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