The decision by the Supreme Court to allow corporations and unions to directly advertise for or against specific candidates in political races anywhere and at any time is the most dangerous blow to American democracy since Lincoln suspended the right of habeas corpus during the Civil War. It not only overturns more than one hundred years of Supreme Court precedent, but makes a mockery of the concept that each of us has a voice in our government.
As I and many other commentators see it, no longer will corporations have to hire lobbyists and press for earmarks in behind the scenes negotiations. Now they can just buy senators or representatives. Can anyone imagine a member of Congress from West Virginia opposing mountain top removal mining techniques? Will we now have senator Cargill from Iowa or senator Boeing from Washington State? Corporations are now free to spend as much as they choose on political campaigns and spend they will. It’s just an outrage.
It’s also completely disingenuous to compare labor unions with giant multi-national corporations in terms of resources. Does anyone believe that the airline mechanics union has the same resources as the airline industry? With this decision I’m willing to wager heavily, there simply will never be another law passed granting workers greater rights or protections.
There are many other areas of law today that stand a good chance of being gutted by this decision. Will we see increases to the minimum wage if the senators purchased by the fast food industry and the big box stores say no? Will environmental laws protecting against dangerous chemical contaminants be even possible if the senators from the energy, mining and chemical companies stand against them?
How is it that corporations have come to be viewed as human? I’m currently a partner in two different corporations. These are business entities. They don’t breath, speak, vote or participate in public life. Congress, the peoples representatives, has spent the better part of the last century regulating corporate financial participation in election campaigns. Now five justices of the Supreme Court have blown off a century of their own legal presidents and Federal law and declared corporations free to operate with almost no restrictions?
And where are the fake populists we’ve become so used to seeing on our TV screens. The ones who’ve spent the last year fighting to keep government off the backs of the people in the health care debate. How come there’s no outcry from them? This is not a liberal or conservative issue – this a democracy issue. Most of the corporations I fear are multi-national. I have no reason to assume they feel any loyalty to the United States.
Some of the world’s largest and wealthiest banks were at the center of the recent global financial crisis. These banks will now be free to spend billions, yes billions if they choose ,to help elect congressional representatives willing to prevent any strong regulation. Which means we are in danger of leaving these banks to go right back to conducting business as was usual before we plunged into the great recession.
In my opinion, this decision by the Supreme Court is the worst since the Dred Scott decision, and it poses a grave danger to what we have come to understand as democracy in the US.
Larry Stopper is a partner in two corporations in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- ▼ 2010 (20)