I was in the process of writing a Special Edition about the peril to democracy from the overuse by Senate Republicans of the filibuster rule since they lost power. This year alone it has been used over 100 times, nearly doubling the recent usage.
This abuse has made it possible for a mere 40% of the membership, the Republicans, to control legislation in the Senate, thus making a super majority necessary to govern. This is obviously not what the founding fathers had in mind, nor is it in the Constitution.
But the ink was not even dry on this filibuster discussion when I heard the news, and then this morning confirmed it in the New York Times, that the Supreme Court had handed a new weapon to the already empowered lobbyists. This should be no surprise since large business interests, through the appointment of conservative justices, control the Court.
I am sure that I will be saying more about this in the future, but my bottom line is that there is no hope for the middle and poor classes in the future. Wealthy corporations will elect their own puppets because ordinary people cannot outspend them.
To put this in historical perspective, it looks like I lived to see the end of democracy, if we ever had it. Barack Obama may well be the last president to be elected with small donations raised over the Internet. Enjoy it while you can.
The idea behind this ruling is that corporations, like humans, are entitled to free speech, which is protected, at least for us, by the Bill of Rights. Corporations are obviously not humans; they have only one dimension, namely to be profitable. All the other aspects of being humans, namely our values, our aesthetics, our hopes and spirituality, and especially our empathy are missing in most corporations. So is our deep-seated passion to protect the world for future generations, especially our own.
The day we hear major corporations espousing these human virtues, we might reconsider whether they are protected by our Bill of Rights. For now, since "earning per share" is their only mantra, I say they should have only the same rights as the nearest signpost.
I for one am ready to join a revolution to bring back the democracy Jefferson thought he had given us.
Why should we allow five Supreme Court Justices to have the last word on our democracy? Those five have just shredded a century of campaign law precedent this past January 21st. Campaign expense laws were first established in a response to the early day robber barons. William McKinley, a Republican president, used unprecedented amounts of corporate cash to defeat William Jennings Bryan, a Populist, in 1896. Teddy Roosevelt used his bully pulpit to help end the hijacking of elections, which supported the landmark ban (Tillman Act1907) on corporate funding of federal elections. So now five extremely conservative Supreme Court Justices have voided this part of a body of law and legal precedents.
No wonder Congressmen are bailing out. Now every time they cast a vote not to the liking of the almighty corporate power, they will face multimillion-dollar campaigns against them. The justices ruled that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as actual people, and that laws restricting corporate political spending amount to censorship! They also invalidated prohibition of spending in state laws restricting corporate spending to support or attack candidates running for state offices.
The U.S. solicitor general noted during the 2008 election, federally registered parties and committees spent $1.5 billion, yet during that same period Fortune 100 corporations combined spent $605 billion. Is this a democratic republic any longer? Do our votes even count? You be the judge.
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