Friday, January 22, 2010

Big Money + “Free Speech” = Less Democracy

One of the great ironies in an otherwise unfathomable universe is that events often occur in a way that serendipitously substantiates truth. Take for example yesterday’s US Supreme Court decision. In a 5-4 ruling, the high court in all but perspective rewrote campaign finance law, striking down a federal law that prohibited Big Money contribution to political candidates either directly or by [the] financial backing of campaign ads.
In the equating of such practices by the high court in terms free speech, proponents cheered the decision, hailing it as a victory which promotes the free exchange of opposing thoughts in the free market of ideas. The funny thing though is that most times, political partisans are rarely ever interested in anything in the way of “opposing ideas,” unless such ideas give them a Boogey Man to oppose during election cycles.
However, such “free speech” is yet another stab in the heart of the democratic process as we, the unconnected citizens, are forced to sit back and watch as Big Money contributions influence public policy through the innuendo of [the] reciprocity for donations to, and support of candidates for public office.
In yesterday’s posting (“Why the Republican Party is Better than the Democratic Party”), I lauded the Republicans for their ability to ostensibly take the moral high ground in politics by defining and framing political arguments—especially in political campaigns—which is why they are so successful in winning elections (but they are only as good at governing as the Democrats). If yesterday’s ruling has done anything, it has proven this point in spades. Without batting an eye, the conservative wing of the high court eloquently stated the logic of its position, totally ignoring the fact that they engaged in the same “judicial activism”—making law from the bench—they often accuse liberals of engaging in whenever one is nominated for a potential position, especially within the federal judiciary. And predictably, the ideologically impotent Democrats have failed to shine a light on this double-standard.
Outside of political partisanship, it’s a little difficult to understand the math behind the high court’s thinking; the everyday average citizen is supposed to benefit from giving Big Money donors more of a “say” in the political process? You’ll pardon me if I get up from my desk and walk out of class right about now.


  1. "it’s a little difficult to understand the math behind the high court’s thinking"

    Not really. It comes from the phrase "All men are created equal". In our founding documents, you will find no deference to income, and/or wealth of the idividual.
    A rich corporate tycoon has the exact same right to criticise someone in a public forum as any begger on the street. The only difference between the two is "ability", which can not and should not be legislated by government via such unconstitutional propositions such as McCain/Fiengold.

    Take comfort in the fact that you have the same right to buy air time on a network as The Sierra Club,, or the NRA. Now, go on out there and get yourself one of those "green jobs" that Obama talks about so often, and make that first million so you can do the same thing.

  2. Then therein lies the problem. The Founding Fathers did not envision that corprations would be considered virtual living entities with regards to the law, and thats the problem with such a strict interpretation of the law. Sometimes, we can have too many freedoms to the point that such cripples the spirit of the democratic process. There is no way that you can convince me that the framers of the Constitution either favored or considered that Big Money's (whether through labor unions or corporations) influence and access to the legislative process would be conducive to the spirit of the democratic process. Its no different than say, the issue of gay marriage on the Left...although the document is flexible, no way they envisioned flexibility to such an extend.

  3. BTPS,
    The founders did not envision corporations would ever be run by autonomous robots, because as of yet, they are not. Therefore, it goes without saying that corporations are not considered living entities, but the people who run them are. And those same people are "endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights"...just like every other American.
    But be that as it may, a popular, powerful, rich man had the same right to free speech in 1776, as he would in did the poor downtrodden man both then and now.

  4. I have to agree with the poster on this one. I think certain groups of people are so hell-bent on the rule of law that they cannot see the forest for the trees. Yes, everyone has rights, but we tend to let our feelings self-interests decide who has "rights" and who doesn't. Fo9r example, many of the same people (republicans)who supported the supreme court decision are the same people who are always talking about "law and order" and clamping down hard on criminals without regard to circumstances of each case. They are always complaing about the law favoring the "rights of the accused" over the "rights of the victims." NOW all of a sudden "EVERYBODY has rights," including the big money machines that are able to buy influence into having elected law makers vote in THEIR favor over those of us who actually voted them in. It seems like the republicans want it both ways...when it suits THEM, "everybody has the same right," but when its a campaign issue to make them look good, "criminals (and others) shouldnt have rights over victims (or other people)." As usual, republicans walk away looking like hypocrites (or liers)! I totally agree Beyond The Spectrum! big money DOES give us less democracy!!!

    Lovable Liberal

  5. Thank you Lib. I try to analyze and view things from an ideological neutral perspective, although often, the thoughts and ideas I post often coincide with the political and ideological agendas of those of a particular bent. Yes, if one takes a strict interpretation of the law, corporations DO indeed have the same rights as individuals. However, there is no way that the Founding Fathers could have imagined that money would so co-opt the political process to the extent that it has; Special Interests run our government and the legislators are their puppts, while you are I only have a voice as election time nears. The result is that 90% of their time in office, legislators are working for/with Big Money special interests and 10% of the time--the time nearing an election cycle--they "work" for us. And, as you allude to, all conservatives and other strict legal interpretists can do is say, "That's the law." It's funny how people are so willing to embrace ideas which goes against their own self-interests.