SANTA CRUZ, April 7, 2014 — While the outcry from the left over the 2010 supreme court ruling on Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission was prompt and deafening, the decision now appears to be merely the first strike in an attempt by the wealthy from both sides of the political spectrum to legally hijack the American election process.
The second shot was fired this month with the Supreme Court’s decision on McCutcheon vs Federal Election Commission.
The fact remains that, while each decision deals a blow to the ability of ordinary, middle income individuals to have a relevant voice in our electoral process, the real elephant in the room is the Supreme Court’s obvious predilection toward concentrated wealth, and a clear disdain for representative democracy.
The first domino fell with the Citizens United ruling establishing that powerful, multinational corporations ought to be extended the same rights as individual people, and therefore the privileges granted under the first amendment of the constitution. The decision equated bloated campaign contributions to free speech, a perception which continues to have most rational people scratching their heads. Of course, the predictable aftermath was the rapid growth of distended, so-called super PACs.
These groups, which had been circumventing election laws for decades, were now free to openly buy elections, without breaking any laws.
Liberals decried Citizens United, although it opened up the floodgates of limitless contributions to Democratic candidates as well as Republicans. Many felt that giving corporations, which Noam Chomsky once described as private tyrannies, the same rights as people was a dangerous proposition, and recent history shows that they were right.
Both supreme court decisions have served to bypass the common citizen in the mechanics of government, and the processes by which representatives are elected.
In a recent column, The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby wrote that liberals ought to be supportive of the McCutcheon decision due to its superficial buttressing of the first amendment, conceptually if not actually. The value of free speech is its ability to empower those without the means to be commonly heard above the fray. What McCutcheon really does is supplant the average American’s ability to participate, forwarding it instead to a proxy entity, herein a wealthy person or corporation, who would then speak for them. In a world without greed, this could be a constructive process, but those of us who live in reality know that, whatever traits are intrinsic of entrenched power, benevolence is not one of them.
This Supreme Court appears determined to quietly strip away the rights and abilities of common citizens to support any candidates or causes, or robustly participate in the electoral process. Under the current climate, most voices will surely be drowned out by a deafening flood of now-legal donations from America’s elite, whichever side of the ministerial spectrum they fall on. In a political climate which has witnessed the steady marginalization of average Americans, this latest decision is yet another crippling blow to the entire democratic process, one which ought to be condemned by progressives and conservatives alike.
Russ Rankin writes about hockey, music & politics. You can find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He also sings for Good Riddance and Only Crime. Find out what he’s up to by checking out his website.