Sunday, January 24, 2010

Court increases corporate influence

Original Link:

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Thursday to do away with portions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law has made for some strange bedfellows. The decision ended a 63-year-old ban on corporations using money from their general treasuries to produce and run campaign ads -- as well as eliminating a McCain-Feingold provision that bars issue-oriented ads paid for by corporations or unions 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election.

Reaction to the ruling has largely been what you would expect, with Republicans cheering a victory for free speech and Democrats, including the president, calling it a victory for big oil, Wall Street Banks, health insurance companies and other powerful interests.

But how often do you see the American Civil Liberties Union (generally associated with liberals) and the National Rifle Association (favored by conservatives) stand up for the same side of an issue? And since when do corporate management and labor unions agree with each other?

Free speech is one thing, but when did unbridled spending by businesses, unions and organizations that have deep pockets and wealthy supporters become free speech? And when did a nebulous corporation become the equal of a living, breathing, hard-working middle-class American citizen?

And how responsive to the will of the American public can a representative government be when it has been bought by special interests -- legally? Every vote, every speech, every decision could end up being weighed against how those corporate donors will react, whether a high-priced attack ad campaign will be launched against representatives who cast the "wrong" vote or whether campaign funding will be withheld when the next election rolls around.

We can now expect massive spending by corporate or wealthy special interests to become the norm as big business takes advantage of this opportunity to spend as much as it wishes to have its way, regardless of what may be at stake.

Free speech --the right of American citizens to speak up for or against whatever they feel strongly about --is guaranteed to the people by our Constitution.

But unbridled corporate spending for political purposes is not speech -- and it unleashes a force that cannot possibly under any scenario be countered or matched by ordinary American citizens, individually or collectively.

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