By Victor Goode
Yesterday, the US Supreme Court drove a nail in the coffin of our ever shrinking democracy. In the case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission the court struck down several provisions of the campaign finance law that placed limits on both the amounts and the ways that corporations could spend on campaign advertising and issue advocacy.
Today’s blogosphere is full of dire predictions, as well it should be. With the removal of even these relatively minor constraints the power of big business and lobby groups has been enhanced in a political landscape where they already held inordinate influence. The health care debate is but one example. Even though several polls showed a clear preference for a health care public option, these little voices of the people were drowned out by an insurance industry that according to the Supreme Court was only exercising its First Amendment rights to “participate” in the debate. And participate they did! Even within the limits of the old law, lobby groups for the insurance industry spent an estimated $173 million dollars on the Health Care Bill and got pretty much everything they wanted.
This decision is going to be especially damaging for communities of color.
Typically big business seeks to lower its taxes while never passing on these savings in the form of higher wages and benefits to its workers. Under the cover of the courts decision we can also expect corporations to increase their attacks on the entire federal framework of health and safety regulations which affect everything from child toys to food labeling and clean water. The “privatization” frenzy of the Bush administration now has new ammunition.
Politics has always been a bit of a chess match, but yesterday’s decision just knocked the whole board to the floor. One thing is sure. When the new game starts big business will be moving more of the pieces.