Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Day Democracy Died (UPDATED)

In a stunning display of judicial activism, the kind that conservatives are prone to decrying, today's outrageous Supreme Court ruling sounded the death knell for democracy in the United States.

Corporations and unions (but corporations especially), with all their financial might, will be able to buy political favor in ways to date unprecedented. Their ability to influence the electoral process has been blown to unimaginable proportions by the Courts' corporate servants with today's ruling.

This is not a Republican vs. Democratic issue (though Republicans, in their role of defenders of corporate interests, are likely to benefit, at least initially): It's an American issue.

Events like these warrant a popular revolt, preferably a peaceful one, but a revolt indeed.

UPDATE 1
It is impossible to overstate the destructive import of the Roberts' Court decision. Some are already calling it the worst decision handed by the Supreme Court since Dred Scott, and that is a very high bar to pass. I will keep adding updates to the original post, below.

Here are two important opinions from Jason Linkins and Dahlia Litwick.

UPDATE 2
Senators Snowe (R-ME) and McCain (R-AZ) have expressed their disappointment with today's Supreme Court decision on unlimited corporate funding for political advertising

UPDATE 3
Greg Palast has a very troubling take on the Citizens United ruling.

UPDATE 4
In a somewhat rambling post on the Daily Kos, Potatohead nails the problem with today's SCOTUS Citizens United ruling:
Giving corporations this complete freedom of speech, "money as speech", without also constraining them as we the people are constrained by our needs and the natural world, does nothing more than grant any of us, who have sufficient wealth, [the right] to act above the law, doing harm without accountability, and stand above others, violating equality of law, and violating the social contract, checks and balances necessary for an equitable social justice.

That's what this ruling did. It says that really ugly people can invoke a corporation, do harm through it, profit from that, then place all accountability on the corporation, where our means for legal remedies are largely ineffective.

This is a mistake.

2 comments:

John Stockwell said...

What an overreaction! So, corporations can put
money in a campaign. Now they can do it
openly instead of funneling it through "individual"
contributions. There is no change.

As to the Democrats losing their filibuster proof
supermajority, that means that they will have to
try to work with the Republicans to form centrist
solutions, instead of running roughshod over
rationality with a Pelosi-ite left wing agenda.

This is not the end of democracy, but rather
democracy in action. (Incidentally, we are a
republic not a democracy.)

So, you will just have to chill out.

Sirfab said...

John: The United States is indeed a republic that believes it is a democracy. So much so that it thinks it should export it to other countries (conceptually, it would be too complicated to try to export something you have to explain, like a republic, instead of something everybody understands, like democracy. Such is the power of words). Hence I think I am authorized to take the liberty to use of the word "democracy".

To some extent you are right when you say that corporations can already put money in a campaign (though indirectly, via PACs). But you are wrong in saying that there is no change. The change lies a) in the amount of money that can be funnelled by corporations into the political process, via political ads--after today it is unlimited--and b) in the fact that the Supreme Court's ghastly decision reinforces the idea that corporations are super-citizens: they have all the priviliges of individuals, without many of the liabilities. Add to this the fact that corporations are multinational entities, with no allegiance to any national entity, and you see the Pandora's box (read sewer) that the conservative, pro-corporate Supremes opened.

As for the loss of the filibuster-proof majority, I am actually happy about it, because it will hopefully force Democrats in the Senate to use reconciliation as a legislative tool, which will actually reinforce the left's ability to "run roughshod over rationality with a Pelosi-ite left wing agenda". There are scarier agendas than providing for American citizens what the citizens of world superpowers like the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Taiwan already have (guaranteed non-profit health care to all but a tiny percentage of its citizens).

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