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Institutionalizing Corporate Oligarchy

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The Supreme Court decision in the case of in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission yesterday, by a vote of 5-4, absolutely sickens me.

The New York Times editorial this morning is a pretty good summary. In case you don’t have a minute or two now to read the whole thing now, here are the key grafs:

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.

Congress and members of the public who care about fair elections and clean government need to mobilize right away, a cause President Obama has said he would join. Congress should repair the presidential public finance system and create another one for Congressional elections to help ordinary Americans contribute to campaigns. It should also enact a law requiring publicly traded corporations to get the approval of their shareholders before spending on political campaigns.

These would be important steps, but they would not be enough. The real solution lies in getting the court’s ruling overturned. The four dissenters made an eloquent case for why the decision was wrong on the law and dangerous. With one more vote, they could rescue democracy.

Hey, Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy, we’ve already got a corporate oligarchy here in the U.S., in case you hadn’t noticed. That you approve is no surprise. That you would make this long leap toward institutionalizing it is heinous.

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