Today I found a link from facebook to a petition issued by Common Cause to “fight corporate ownership of elections”. I read the petition, read a little about Common Cause and and it’s president and CEO, Bob Edgars and signed the petition. What little I read was enough to determine the basic position the organization takes as a whole but the reason for my signature stems from a deep concern that I’ve been developing since the Supreme Court ruled against a provision in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 that effectively gives corporations the right to spend unlimited money on election campaigns. The argument, as insane as this sounds, was that the right for a corporation to spend unlimited money on an election campaign is protected under the 1st Amendment as a freedom of expression.
Actually, I can stretch a little bit and see how the funding of a campaign might be construed as a freedom of expression, although I think it would be better to qualify such expressions as a direct effort to communicate an idea and to qualify the funding of such communication as indirect. In other words, if you pay me $5 to assemble a sign and post it in a public space, then my efforts to use a sign to communicate directly should be protected but your efforts to fund my action with $5 should not. You can test the qualification by isolating the actions and determining the nature of those actions on their own merits. Passing a $5 bill by itself does not constitute an expression. If that were the case, then buying pornography, street drugs or weapons for terrorists would fall under the protection of the 1st Amendment too. Our entire legal system determines the status of a monetary transaction, not on the transaction itself but on what service or product is being purchased.
Aside from what should be an obvious difference between paying money to have something done and actually doing something, there is also my concern about the amount of power that money controls and the residual nature of that money. Since the rise of banking from the Renaissance to the industrial revolution, money has gradually replaced heritage as the conduit of the ruling classes, while various forms of socialism and democracy have provided a counter-balance that gives the working classes some degree of self-determination. In recent generations advocates of plutocracy have leveraged the horror stories of socialism gone bad in the 20th century to cultivate a negative perspective on any counter-balance to financial power while presenting finance itself as a new form of democracy, inviting everyone in the working classes into the world of money markets. But the gravitational nature of money, where big sums attract more money, makes that a deceiving invitation. The fact remains that it doesn’t matter if you have $500,000 you will still loose the argument against someone with $500,000,000 and we are fast approaching a point where all other considerations are dismissed and every decision regarding the complexities of humanity will be based on the simple arithmetic of accounting.
Protecting the unlimited funding of a political campaign under the 1st Amendment is a significant battle in this war between humanity and Mammon and in no other culture is this as dangerous as it is right here in America, where we find a culture of obsessive consumerism under the relentless influence of marketing campaigns. From the time we’re children influenced by TV commercials to ask Mom, Dad and even Santa to buy specific products we are developed into compulsive followers of marketing campaigns and it matters little whether such campaigns are commercial or electoral, the brainwashing process is the same. Simply put, anyone with enough money can command a marketing campaign capable of brainwashing people even into acting against their own benefit, whether it’s smoking cigarettes or voting for Republicans. This was the reason why limits were set on the amount of money a corporation could spend on an election campaign and this safeguard is precisely what the Supreme Court struck from the law books. Perhaps it’s already too late to prevent the tyranny of money.
Certainly, there is also no time as dangerous for this to happen as now, given the recent advances in the globalization of commerce. The fact that money now flows across a global economy as easily as it does across a national economy means that the natural path of the “trickle-down” an economic construct still championed by conservatives as the best answer to economic distribution, would be to fill all the depressions of emerging markets all around the world before the water level reaches the American workers and if influence becomes a commodity then you can rest assured that through our own concessions, we will become the last in line for whatever drops of hope are left from an exhausted trickle.
So I can’t see how this bench decision to protect the right of a corporation to spend unlimited money on election campaigns has any merit other than to secure the power that the ruling classes already have over the cultivated submission of the American people.
So… taking a closer look at this law, the first thing an apologist might point out is that the law itself is an effort to reform bipartisan campaigns…
I think it’s almost pointless to call it bipartisan.