Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bye-Bye Ms. American Pie

After a long and tenuous relationship, the Supreme Court finally did the deed and blew off Democracy. Now, it's not like Democracy hasn't already been getting the shaft from the other two branches of government, but last Thursday's ruling will officially put an end to the love triangle that existed between Corporations, Politicians and the People. Why? Because in order to get elected you need money --and more specifically, money to advertise. So what did the Roberts Court do? Well, they decided that corporations were having their first amendment rights restricted by having limits on the amount of money they could spend on political advertisements.

If you think that calling this the death of democracy is an overstatement, consider just the example of Halliburton. Over the past decade, Halliburton has secured over 21 billion in contracts as a result of the Iraq War. Now, imagine that in the next presidential election you have two candidates on the slate, one who supports war (say with Iran) and one who opposes it. If you were Halliburton, don't you think it would benefit you to throw a measly 100 million to run ads in favor of the pro-war candidate? How about Exxon or Shell, do you think that they'd have a stake in what's going on? Or what about media enterprises, don't think that their ratings shoot up during war time? Blackwater? Arms manufacturers? The Steel Industry? You get the point. Now, it's true that corporations had already blown off Democracy some time ago anyways, but at least this had to happen in roundabout ways, big wig fundraisers, third party front groups, bundled donations, and so on. Now the farce is over with. No more circus hoops to jump through. And no legal risks involved. Given that a typical house race entails only a few million in spending, imagine how easily the House could be bought. Even in a presidential election, Obama who broke all records for fundraising raised only $750 million. Perhaps the only plus side of this is that it will only make it easier to see the corporate money being funneled to advertise on behalf of candidates. But with us being bombarded by media-buys perhaps we won't even care then. We'll all stamp our feet, smile and chant "Just Do It" as our favorite political candidate tells us of the need for another war.

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