The Wisconsin recall election was the first major test of the new era in American politics. That new era began in January of 2010 when the US Supreme Court ruled in "Citizens United v. FEC" that the political voice of We The People was no longer as important as the voices of billionaires and transnational corporations.
Now we know the result, and it bodes ill for both 2012 and for the tattered future of small-d democracy in our republic. A few of America's most notorious oligarchs -- including the Koch and the DeVos (Amway fortune) billionaires -- as well as untraceable millions from donors who could as easily be Chinese government-run corporations as giant "American" companies who do most of their business and keep most of their profits outside the US -- apparently played big in this election. I say "apparently" because the Supreme Court has ruled that we no longer have the right to know who is really funding our election commercials, or even our candidates themselves.
Thanks to an irrational and likely illegal Supreme Court ruling, we have moved into an era of oligarch-run politics. As much as $40 million of our oligarch's money was spent in Wisconsin in a handful of local races -- a testing laboratory for strategies that will now be used against Democrats nationwide in 2012.
And so now we enter the battle of the oligarchs over the next fifteen or so months. As the old saying goes, when the elephants fight, the mice get trampled. In this case, the mice aren't just the voters. It's democracy itself. America is now -- demonstrably, as proven by Wisconsin -- just a few years away from the possibility of a totally corrupted, totally billionaire- and corporate-controlled political system. Political scientists call it oligarchy.
The Citizens United election experiment is over, and the oligarchs won. Long live the oligarchy.
Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)