It is time that we expressed our concern and outrage that corporations and very wealthy individuals are pouring millions of dollars into this election campaign and doing it largely anonymously through loopholes in the 501 (c) federal tax code.
The good news in this sorry situation is that some reporters and social critics are beginning to express their concerns and name names. For example, Rachel Maddow spent a large chunk of her Friday commentary on domestic and international corporate money that is flowing through the U. S. Chamber of Commerce to many rightwing candidates’ campaigns. [Here]
Another example of this mounting criticism is the following statement that was sent via email from the Readers’ Supported News service. It was written by the brilliant and liberal Robert Reich, economist, social critic and former Secretary of Labor under Clinton: [Here]
Not only is income and wealth in America more concentrated in fewer hands than it's been in 80 years, but those hands are buying our democracy as never before - and they're doing it behind closed doors.
Hundreds of millions of secret dollars are pouring into congressional and state races in this election cycle. The Koch brothers (whose personal fortunes grew by $5 billion last year) appear to be behind some of it, Karl Rove has rounded up other multi-millionaires to fund right-wing candidates, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is funneling corporate dollars from around the world into congressional races, and Rupert Murdoch is evidently spending heavily.
The cash floodgates were opened by the Supreme Court decision this year in Citizens United v. F.E.C. which gave corporations the right of free speech. As Wikipedia summarized the decision, “corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment.”
Everyone on the left decried this 5-4 decision and even the President mentioned it in his State of the Union address. (Remember Justice Alito, who was sitting in the audience, quietly mouthing his disagreement with the President?) However, Congress did not step up to impose some sensible standards and new guidelines. Of course, the Repubicans would have voted NO! so the Democrats didn’t really bother.
We are left remembering some words from, now retired, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens’s crackling dissent: [Here]
At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.
Indeed! Need anyone say more?