GAH! My god, what an awful, awful week. Washington is spewing bad news faster than I can keep up with it. Every time I open the paper (Google Reader) I say to myself: Well, THIS is as bad as it can get. AND THEN THINGS GET WORSE. Hahahahahahahahaha, WHY GOD!?
The Supreme Court’s decision yesterday to grant corporations unlimited spending ability — an event which shall henceforth be known as “oligarchy codification day” — actually trumps the unnecessary victory of “Cosmo” Scott Brown over “Redbook” Martha Coakley for worst news of the week. As the New York Times put it this morning, now lobbyists can say:
“[I]f you vote wrong, my company, labor union or interest group will spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election.”
It’s difficult to overstate how devastating this ruling is, so let’s not even try!
The court has decided that corporations are Real Americans, who should be able to buy unlimited political influence like all Real Americans can. They will now wield comical amounts of power, literally. As Brian Beutler tweeted yesterday, quoting the majority opinion and then describing the response [via Ezra Klein]:
“appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy,” says SCOTUS…b4 bursting into laughter.
Among other things, yesterday’s catastrophe makes explicit the general feeling in America that the government exists solely to allow corporations to concentrate their wealth. As James Madison said— which Noam Chomsky often quotes to illustrate the true motives of at least some of the founding fathers — the government,
“ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.”
MADISON’S DREAM HAS COME TRUE. Politicians will now be decorated with corporate logos like human NASCARs. The only difference is that we won’t be lucky enough to see one of them burst into flames 18 hours into a 3-day filibuster.
The wonderful Dahlia Lithwick — who, remarkably, hasn’t taken her own life after covering both this story and the Gitmo murders scandal — summed up the court’s ruling yesterday. To alter a Tupac line ever so slightly, her final paragraph hits your conscience like a slug to your chest:
“[Y]ou can plainly see the weariness in Stevens eyes and hear it in his voice today as he is forced to contend with a legal fiction that has come to life today, a sort of constitutional Frankenstein moment when corporate speech becomes even more compelling than the “voices of the real people” who will be drowned out. Even former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist once warned that treating corporate spending as the First Amendment equivalent of individual free speech is “to confuse metaphor with reality.” Today that metaphor won a very real victory at the Supreme Court. And as a consequence some very real corporations are feeling very, very good.”
The New York Times Editorial Board writes:
“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.”
Yay! You know what everyone in America was just thinking? Boy, I wish those corporations finally had some say in how this country was run. Why, those plucky upstarts have been marginalized for too long! Oh, it’s just fantastic. In ten years, nobody will get why it used to be a joke to refer to Nelson Aldrich as the Senator From Standard Oil — where else would he be from?
Republicans nearly trampled each other racing to say what a fantastic win this is for the First Amendment, a sure sign that yesterday was a huge defeat for the First Amendment. But equally as important as the insane amount of money the GOP will now be getting from corporations is the money that the Democrats also will be trying their damndest to get. Nothing was as damaging to the health care bill as the secret meeting with the pharmaceutical and health insurance lobbyists — meetings that were made to please those powerful interests, and keep their dollars flowing to the Democrats and away from the GOP. Now, there will be even more incentives for the repulsive Democrats to sink further into the corporatist quicksand that will soon envelope this country whole, if it hasn’t already.
Watching the 2010 elections is going to be even worse now than I anticipated. The best we can hope for now is a fiery wreck around the final turn.
(For a quick overview of this case, here’s a link to the always reliable Bill Moyers, who devoted some time to it a few weeks ago.)