By Juell Stewart
In a move that’s sure to create such political offices as “Georgia’s Junior Senator, brought to you by Coca-Cola,” the New York Times reports that the Supreme Court has run roughshod over decades of federal campaign finance measures and has thrown out a rule that once prohibited corporations and unions from using their considerable coffers to back specific candidates.
With mid-term elections on the horizon, today’s decision is sure to start a domino effect of increasingly corporatized candidates in a political landscape that is already hostile to smaller, grassroots campaigns. I, for one, am wary of what’s around the corner in electoral politics.
While it’s been clear that lobbyists and Fortune 500 companies have been paying their way onto Capitol Hill for quite some time, at least lately there’s been some semblance of separation between corporate interests and political interests—if nothing else, at least we could rest easy knowing that corporations couldn’t legally directly campaign for a candidate, even if they contributed millions of dollars in donations and gifts behind the scenes.
But with today’s decision, those barriers are destroyed entirely. There’s nothing keeping the companies with the deepest pockets from purchasing prime ad time for the candidate of their choice and effectively owning them to act in their interests for the duration of their time in office.
It seems like we’re moving backwards, or at least swimming in a big ol’ pool of contradictions: on one hand, the government is seeking to place blame on the likes of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase for orchestrating the current worldwide financial gaffe, but on the other, the Supreme Court is giving companies of their ilk unprecedented political potential. If there’s a silver lining to this cloud, I can’t see it through the storm that’s heading our way.
Juell Stewart is a research fellow with the Applied Research Center.