In what I think may be their worst collective decision ever, the Supreme Court of these United States today decided that “government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.” The ruling takes the position that freedom of speech extends to corporations which they treat as individuals. (See the concept of corporate personhood.) So it now seems that any corporation can spend freely to push their political agenda as they please. Whereas you and I have a limit on our donations, they do not. This decision overturns 20 years of campaign finance regulations and allows corporations to wield unprecedented control over our elections.
Haven’t we had enough proof of the power of the corporate purse in watching the disgusting way health reform has been dealt with because the pharmaceutical and insurance industries own so many of our politicians? Now corporations unhappy with the way any candidate votes may throw their vast fortunes behind their opponent, essentially taking the power of our votes away. To quote Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) : “The bottom line is this: the Supreme Court has just predetermined the winners of next November’s elections. It won’t be Republicans. It won’t be Democrats. It will be corporate America.”
Now we really need to push for campaign finance reform from the Congress. There are those that say this is a done deal, but if the framers of the constitution really thought corporations should have this power, they sure had a strange way of showing it. A brief history of the corporation in American from reclaimdemocracy.org:
Initially, the privilege of incorporation was granted selectively to enable activities that benefited the public, such as construction of roads or canals. Enabling shareholders to profit was seen as a means to that end.
The states also imposed conditions (some of which remain on the books, though unused) like these:
* Corporate charters (licenses to exist) were granted for a limited time and could be revoked promptly for violating laws.
* Corporations could engage only in activities necessary to fulfill their chartered purpose.
* Corporations could not own stock in other corporations nor own any property that was not essential to fulfilling their chartered purpose.
* Corporations were often terminated if they exceeded their authority or caused public harm.
* Owners and managers were responsible for criminal acts committed on the job.
* Corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making.
Now the people on the right are crowing about this being a victory for them. “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC, serves as an affirmation of the constitutional rights provided to Americans under the first amendment,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in a statement. But how would the founding fathers look on this decision? All those that have of late wrapped themselves in the flag and claimed to be the real patriots (yes, you tea partiers, I am talking to you) should be up in arms at this. The idea that government is not working for the people has now been validated by this Supreme Court, and I for one am ready to take to the streets. And I hope this decision wakes a lot of slumbering actual people to the reality of the corporatization of not just the US, but the world.