The end of Democracy

The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday drove the final nail into the coffin containing a dead American concept called democracy.

In a 5-4 vote, the court lifted virtually all limits on corporate spending on election campaigns, opening the door to total and complete control of the electoral process by big business and labor unions.

Gone are limits on what a business can spend on behalf of or against a candidate. Gone are any restrictions that prevented massive conglomerates from buying and entire Congress and the Presidency.

Gone is democracy. Dead. Buried. Forgotten.

Reports The Associated Press:

The Supreme Court has opened the door to a new era of big and possibly shadowy election spending, rolled back anti-corruption laws and emboldened critics of fundraising limits to press on. In the middle of it all will be voters, trying to figure out who’s telling the truth.

The court’s ruling Thursday lets corporate America start advertising candidates much as they market products and tell viewers to vote for or against them. While it almost certainly will lead to a barrage of hard-hitting TV ads in the 2010 elections, its implications reach far beyond that.

The ruling was a victory for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the National Rifle Association and other interest groups most likely to run ads with money from their treasuries. It’s unlikely major corporations would want their name on an ad, but they can avoid that by giving money to interest groups, who would then run ads and disclose the spending under the groups’ names. It also presents a new option to wealthy individuals who were allowed to spend millions on their own to run election-time candidate ads before, but now can join forces to do so and get more bang for their bucks.

The New York Times weighs in with a scatching editorial:

With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.

Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy.

As a result of Thursday’s ruling, corporations have been unleashed from the longstanding ban against their spending directly on political campaigns and will be free to spend as much money as they want to elect and defeat candidates. If a member of Congress tries to stand up to a wealthy special interest, its lobbyists can credibly threaten: We’ll spend whatever it takes to defeat you.

The ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission radically reverses well-established law and erodes a wall that has stood for a century between corporations and electoral politics. (The ruling also frees up labor unions to spend, though they have far less money at their disposal.)

The founders of this nation warned about the dangers of corporate influence. The Constitution they wrote mentions many things and assigns them rights and protections — the people, militias, the press, religions. But it does not mention corporations.

In 1907, as corporations reached new heights of wealth and power, Congress made its views of the relationship between corporations and campaigning clear: It banned them from contributing to candidates. At midcentury, it enacted the broader ban on spending that was repeatedly reaffirmed over the decades until it was struck down on Thursday.

This issue should never have been before the court. The justices overreached and seized on a case involving a narrower, technical question involving the broadcast of a movie that attacked Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2008 campaign. The court elevated that case to a forum for striking down the entire ban on corporate spending and then rushed the process of hearing the case at breakneck speed. It gave lawyers a month to prepare briefs on an issue of enormous complexity, and it scheduled arguments during its vacation.

I pulled out my DVD of “Network” last night and watched Ned Beatty’s Ocscar-nominated performance as a mega-conglomerate CEO who calls news anchorman Howard Beale (Peter Finch) on the carpet for questioning a merger involving the company that owns the television network:

You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it!! Is that clear?! You think you’ve merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case. The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance!

You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels.

It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU WILL ATONE!

Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?

You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.

What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state — Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do.

We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality — one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.

Paddy Chayefskey’s brilliant script was considered satire when he wrote it back in 1976. Now it’s television fantasy come true. Governments will no longer be pawns of big business. Big business will be governments. The Supreme Court has given them the ability to legally buy the government they want and impose their will on a people who are powerless to resist.

No, the end is not near and the sky is not falling.

The end is here and the sky fell…and buried us all.

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Comments

  1. Carl Nemo

    Ms. Price…

    *****

    “There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity”…Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    *****

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. bryan mcclellan

    Tolerance -vs- Intolerance.

    We fully know that either has it’s yin and yang or karma etc.

    There is but one solution and that is civility.

    I know people from many walks of life as do we all, and finally in my twilight years I have tried to listen and appreciate their diversity sans the vectorization of their direction as apposed to mine.

    We have an open platform here, with footings set deep in the rock of individualism, and the first amendment, and I have a hunch whether it is Darwinism or Christianity, if we allow the discourse to levitate either way a flailing, then we are just flapping our arms as we fall into the bottomless pit designed to enslave and divide.

    We are truly faced with more pressing matters as the headline infers.

  3. Doug Thompson

    That she was. Sadly, she seems to have abandoned her new web site. It hasn’t been updated since Sept. 2009 and only has four members of the forum.

    She would be welcome back here but that’s her choice.

  4. griff

    Get a life already, Sandra. You never discuss other posters here? You brought it up, not me.

    I’ve never complained to Doug about you or any one else. You live in a world of paranoia and delusion.

    Who’s being a bully, Sandra? Who is keeping this going? What does religion have to do with any of this? You’re grasping at straws and straw men.

    Let it go. You’re embarrassing yourself.

  5. Sandra Price

    griff, I do not discuss other posters here with Doug. I leave that to the complainers. I know that I’m out of step with the opinions here at CHB and I have been for many years. When the internet first started thousands of individuals stated their opinions publically and proudly. After years of dissention, we have individuals simply bringing opinions of others so that no debate is possible. It is safer to ride on the words of others.

    I’ve been an opinion writer longer than most people who write their own opinions here and elsewhere. I guess I should have been softer in my approach and cater to the newbies who just discovered the GOP and Dems.

    I can handle honest debates but when I face a bully who complains to the boss man, it is time to close up. I left CHB years ago and started my own groups to work on the separation of church and state. I could not have chosen a worse time or subject because I have faced the dynamics of the religious right on all levels. I have always feared that this subject would destroy any chance of rational debates within politics. It took over the GOP and worked against the Democrats and ended up losing their respect. It is a political non-subject but it is used as a tool for destruction.

    If anyone on this earth can explain to me how a conspiracy of terror can entrap millions of Americans to ask the churches to mark their ballots I might listen. I see no asset in this conspiracy and have never found peace within any terminal patient when they get close to the end. It is this movement that destroys our American values. It divides people and labels others in insulting ways. You have nailed this talent very well.

    I’m not the first or last person who believes Americans have been had by this conspiracy. A quick look at the history of the damage this terror has brought into the lives of all of us is very apparent.

    Without open debate there is not a single site who could or would make an effort to correct the mess we are in. I’ve been out of step here since the beginning. It has always been difficult for me to see the influence Pat Robertson and his ilk has held over the American voters.

    It will an all our war to solve this influence and it is a war I will not validate.

  6. Doug Thompson

    Pollchecker left CHB and started her own web site because she disagreed with my proposal that bloggers here use their real names. Although I never implemented that suggestion she made the decision to leave.

    She was never banned or asked to leave. The decision was her own.

  7. griff

    Let it go, Sandra. I’ve said all I’ll say on this.

    I’ll assume you’re referring to pollchecker? We had some very spirited debates, but perhaps you should ask Doug for the reason she is no longer here.

  8. Sandra Price

    The points made here are that I have a different point of view and stand alone with it. It is not often when I disagree with Doug but my minority opinions always lean toward keeping American freedoms active.

    Griff you were very rude to another female here and she left after months of your rudeness. Her politics were not mine but we were able to debate our issues.

    Why should I stay and be your target? It does my agenda no good. I understand why many prefer government laws against open speech even when it means corporate financing of the media. It is always easier to look for controls rather than an opposite action. That is human nature and in my opinion it is a moral issue. It’s that old “Big Daddy” will fix it.

    I made my stand against government controls and there is nothing more to say. It seems strange that the Supreme Court would rule in my favor on this issue but that First Amendment sometimes brings out the the truth of many in the American political arena.

    I lived in a world of “if only” when my involvment in this arena started immediately after WW2. I found the demand for government programs that we now know is called “Military Industrial Complex.” The frustration of watching Americans settle into total faith behind government obsessed me. If only there was a form of communication to express my fears. I saw many changes in government controls but nothing worse than the one world order controls of President Bush 41. It drove me into political action which became my place on the internet.

    But instead of a search for individual freedoms I ran into the world of whining, bitching and blaming everything and anything on some unknown source.

    What a gas to discover that I became that source. I discovered that no form of information can stop a demand for Big Daddy. It has become a religion of settling for two big daddies. Neither one fills my bill and again I am barking up against the majority of people. I listened to Ben Franklin very closely and I have always wondered why Madison and Jefferson did not put the separation of church and state in the First Amendment. It was an oversight that has removed individual concepts of freedom from the American people.

    There is not one damn thing I can do about this mindset of government being the best choice of action. Old Ben knew it would happen and indeed it has.

  9. rbw152

    “Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power” – Benito Mussolini

  10. Sandra Price

    I’m obsessed with finding a cure for the diseased political stuff that is running madly all over the ‘net. I am not above anyone here but I have been at it longer. How much longer can we whine, complain and argue about our problems? You are right griff, no one here has any concept of changing the system that is so terribly in disarray. CHB will always be a place to whine and blame others for the mess we are in. I tried in 1999 to wake up Reader Rant in their gross misunderstanding of putting Governor Bush in the White House. This place was enamored of the born again man from Texas. Again I was the only one who saw though this hypocrite. I warned constantly about keeping Senator Ashcroft out of the Attorney General’s office. But just like today, there were several big mouth people who reported me to the management and I was banned. Apparently CHB will always be of one mind on every subject and anyone who dares to speak up will be told that nobody likes their pitch.

    I’m not in this for popularity position and could care less if anyone ever agrees with my points of view. I believe that you griff and I see freedom and individual rights with different eyes. I want no government involvement when it comes to raising money for elections. You have made it clear that I am wrong again. I have never labeled you anything but rude and I would bet if we sat down and went over all the government actions, we would agree on which actions stymied our freedoms. If you were here during the McCain Feingold discussions you would find me against the controls that have just been lifted. I have battled government controls ever since I read the Constitution in the 6th grade. So many Americans do not take the time or make the effort to read and research before they explode in print in some forum.

    I have researched the issues on my own and when I find a good strong solution I contact many like minded people to start a movement of corrections. It is amazing that in the political world of today, finding solutions is impossible. People are glued to television and these forums and have no time to review the best actions to take. I’m way above partisan groups. Both sides of the aisle have given up an agenda that fits the problems. We are simply two groups fighting each other without a single thought to the outcome.

    So my friend, I will leave CHB in your hands so you can bitch and moan without a single reason to stop. I misunderstood Doug again and felt he was into opinions and discussions on how to fix the crap we are in. I am absolutely out of step.

    Sandy

  11. griff

    You’re absolutely right, Sandra. I’m a misogynist indian-hater who is seriously pissed off that women are allowed to vote. You nailed it. Congratulations.

    Once and for all, I have no desire to join any team or group, nor do I see myself as any kind of leader of any thing. That, dear Sandra, is completely your bag. But you seem to view me as some kind of threat to your omnipotent leadership for whatever reason.

    You’re the one that’s obsessed with group-think and collectivism. You’re the one that thinks you’re above every one else here, and the rest of us are simple morons. I’m just an everyday guy voicing my opinions. If you wish to agree or disagree with any thing I have to say then you’re more than welcome to reply to me directly, as does every one else.

    You seem to believe that you have some inherent right to dominate this site and demonize any one that doesn’t agree with you. And you haven’t even the courage to do so directly, but you do so with back-handed remarks. If you want to form some kind of group to satisfy your own petty power trip, then by all means go ahead and do it. I want no part of it, and apparently no one else does either.

  12. JeremiahJones

    I agree. But it’s important NOT to mistake corporations for persons. They aren’t. They are machines, designed to turn a profit. That is the fiduciary responsibility of the officers, and it is, apparently, all they care about.

    Multinational corporations are never going to bring jobs back to America. In order for that to happen, American wages would have to fall to Chinese levels — which would collapse our economy, or what’s left of it.

    Jobs are going to be created by non-corporate people, real people who care about producing a product that other people need and want, not producing a product simply to produce a profit.

    When American consumers stop looking at the price tag and start looking at the product, we will have turned the corner. Because the real price of “made in China” is much higher than the number printed on the tag.

  13. Sandra Price

    Griff. Stop and think about my words. Get over who I am and think about my ideas for action against the corruption being allowed by the supreme court. I asked Doug to leave you alone and let you and me get through this. You problem with me is emotional and I’m certain there is a reason for your dissention but I don’t want to know. It could be any one of 2 or 3 reasons starting with the color of my skin, my Indian background or my voting record as a female. I simply want to use the new law just passed by the Supreme Court and use it to control but not destroy the power of the Corporations. It would take this out of whining category and bring it to legal action. If you want to be the leader in this action, I will be delighted to support your actions and debates.

    I have the background to see this action as totally within the First Amendment. If it is too much of a stretch for you to understand then I will do it elsewhere. I have reopened by site and after the Superbowl I will outline the legal aspect of the decision. CHB may not be ready for an action. When this first came up, McCain Feingold was a popular action at Reader Rant. CHB does not have the money to produce a legal action but I know where to go. Just think about it.

  14. Sandra Price

    I don’t attack you. You are baiting me to do just that but I never have and I never will. My attacks are for all Americans who have no time for discussions on the lack of individual freedoms.

    I don’t know anything about you except you have a sharp tongue and a short temper. You were somehow offended with my wanting a team to act as a group and you blew a gasket. That is your problem, not mine. I expect your use of the word “prejudices” and in a certain way you are correct.

    I speak my opinions and somehow that offends you. I have no idea what upsets you when I post here. Apparently my very presence us enough to get you agitated. I will admit you do run in a pack with many others who often have nothing to offer but criticism of others. It doesn’t bother me at all. I do believe in team work and if I can start a group that will work against this new action using the Congress, I will damn well do it.

    My opinion is not yours because I see this change within the Supreme Court as an open invitation to work against the status quo. I have no idea what you think of this, and I have not bothered to ask. We can work as Americans against or for any damn thing we want. Have your little tantrum daily but you cannot bait me to fight with you. Your opinions don’t mean that much to me.

  15. almandine

    After researching and thinking about it more, I am waiting to be shown how this decision kills democracy. Certain corporations (who own the MSM) have always been allowed to spread “their” word regarding elections, candidates, the political process, etc., especially within 60 days of an election, which this decision is all about. Some even call it the “news”.

    Should Murdoch, GE, other telemedia owners, newspapers, etc., have the voice that others of us don’t? If so, why? Should citizens not be able to band together, via incorporation or any other entity, and “sell” our political ideas? Do we discriminate between the Big Boys and the rest?

    The case at issue here had to do with the FEC disallowing the showing of a movie focused against Hillary Clinton, which the FEC said offended McCain-Feingold because of its proximity to the election. We couldn’t rail against Hillary now, could we?

    So given all the hoopla, do the pundits: Limbaugh, Beck, Olberman, Matthews, Stewart, Maddow, Leno, Obrien, Saturday Night Live… pick your own favorite, not exercise their opinions via corporate sponsorship?

    The First Amendment is just fine, it’s the ability for some to buy a little more of its liberty that seems to be the biggest problem, so far. That is, govt censorship of the political process just took a nosedive, and some don’t like the playing field being re-levelled.

  16. griff

    No, what annoys me is your constant and unwarranted attacks on myself and others, not to mention your self-righteous, no one-knows-any thing-but me attitude toward any one that dares question your views or your demeanor.

    And once again I’ll ask that you back up these accusations that I am somehow opposed to individual freedom. Cite one example for me, if you will. You have consistently and without provocation named me personally as something that I’m not based on nothing more than your own convoluted prejudices.

    Back these accusations up, or shut the f*#k up already.

    Leave me the hell out of your crazy rantings, and I’ll extend you the same courtesy.

  17. Sandra Price

    Yes Griff, to you I am a demented bitter old hag. But I’ve been through this argument before and found myself in deep trouble for even suggesting an action to correct the problems. I submitted a blog this morning trying to explain what my background in American politics came from. I am not like you and never was. I see freedoms as a possibility if and only if Americans can work together. My words will never make sense to you basically because all this crap is not new to me. I called it out clearly 40 years ago. I actually thought the internet would clean American out of the whining and bitching and name calling.

    I have chosen not to name my site as it would be using CHB for my own good.

    I will not try to make any changes in the political world here as it annoys you. You are more comfortable throwing barbs at me in public. I’m used to it. I make no complaints to Doug as others have. Your anger is exactly what is wrong in America. I explained in my blog that I am not sane any more than I am a product of American culture. I have one motive and that is individual freedoms. I want to work with others to make changes we discuss but there has never been organized efforts here. Everyone wants a solo role. Well, the stage is yours alone.

  18. griff

    I’m honored once again that you should single me out in one of your meandering diatribes. I’m sold.

    What’s the name of your site again? dementedbitteroldhags.com?

  19. Sandra Price

    I think we get the picture! Now what do we do about it? Can we identify the congress critters who are bought and paid for by the power of the corporations? I’ve been trying to do this for 30 years and the voters think I’m nuts. The corruption is so obvious but many believe that the problem can be solved by voting only for religious right candidates as they are the only moral people in America. This is the mantra of the GOP. Let’s face it the majority of Americans believe they can trust the candidates who profess to be Christians. I realize this pisses off many here but it is the core of the dumbing down of the voters.

    There is no reason that a group of us cannot do an organized research on how much money our Congress accepts. It would be simpler had there not been unlimited programs in D.C. to cover their actions. We are trapped in obsessive programs to keep us out of the information.

    I hope someday to work as that dreaded team that Griff and Carl are offended by and get going on the greatest clean up of American politics.

    The one thing we must not overlook is that the Corporations bring jobs and production to America. We need our products brought home and our workers on the jobs. It should not be too much trouble to see who the corporations buy from the Congress.

    When we get our balls back, I see no reason for changing the Supreme Court back to recognizing Corporations should not be considered as individuals. We tend to allow this just as we allow labor unions more power than the people they represent.

    I’m going to watch some football today and I will pick up the replies to my words later. I am not in the majority here nor am I in any way popular but damnit, I am right!!!

    Sandy

  20. Carl Nemo

    1886 was the era when Standard Oil was in its infancy along with many other corporations whose influence we suffer to this day.

    The men of that era running these future national pariahs were scheming as how to secure their fortunes and power over our nation into the future.

    Don’t think for a minute they were so myopic as not to see the entire world as their private domain, not only then, but again into the future.

    No doubt the 1886 court was massaged to rule as such. Then came their cunning creation of foundations so these families could virtually shelter their wealth into perpetuity without suffering the tax consequences of the pedestrian class nor the whimsy of fickle politicians threatening such tax havens in the future. These foundations have exhibited an incredible influence on the very history of the U.S. to date!

    No Sir, they are not going to allow the unwashed masses to prevail. Their ever-growing great, to greater wealth is secured. The very pols we elect, are proffered to us by the MSM which is also owned or influenced by these shadowy, relatively few families that control the U.S. lock, stock and barrel.

    Our freedom and our way of life seems to be mostly an illusion; ie., simply “our tank”, we “their fishies”. / : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  21. Warren

    This whole mess started with the Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad case before the Supreme Court in 1886. That’s 124 years ago. That’s when the SCOTUS decided that corporations were to have equal protection under the laws, same as individuals, under the 14th Amendment. That precedent has never been overturned.

    This recent decision is just more of what we’ve had for five or six generations.

    Must say, it brings the miserable matter to center stage, fully naked, in rare form.

    —W—

  22. Sandra Price

    jbaspen, you have it very right. We have always needed a public system to balance out the force of opposition groups. How do we do it? We have the freedom now to do exactly that. It is the ultimate freedom of speech and action.

    We have been accustomed to whining and moaning and looking to the government to control itself. We are only into the 230th year of our republic. We must get the balance back. Is it possible Americans are too lazy and without an agenda to even up this mess? The fight always comes down to how much government do we need or want?

    We haven’t even reach total equality for all Americans yet and still the people want more government control over everyone. One cannot legislate morality without defining what exact it means. I keep pounding into people that both our political parties want more government control. We have one side of the aisle trying to redistribute the wealth and the other side trying to legislate God into the people. Meanwhile our wealth is lost due to moving jobs overseas and loans that are not worth the value of the assets. We are like sheep being moved around on a bad chess board and we moan and whine and attach each other. Had the American people kept a downsized government and had more input into the system, we would not be battling top heavy corrupt corporation attacks. Somebody must turn off the television and think about the solutions. The greatest tool for this should be the internet but it has become an arena for bitching and moaning.

    I consider America in a greater position to do exactly as you describe JB. What a political agenda this would make!!!

  23. jbaspen

    Justice Robert Jackson, (the repsected Nuremberg Prosecutor) wrote in a famous dissent (the Terminiello case): “The choice is not between order and liberty…There is a danger that, it the court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the Constitutional
    Bill of Rights into a suicide pact”.

    Doug, I agree with you. We’re at a crossroads. And, as a wise man once quipped: “the Road to Hell is
    marked:Heaven Straight Ahead”! Doug, the only way out is to set up a public system which would provide opposition groups or individuals with matching funds to counter the expected Corporate onslaught. Match it dollar-for-dollar! I see no
    other way to save our already weakened Democracy!
    Keep up the valiant work, Doug! JB