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CITIZENS UNITED – A START

July 6, 2017

CITIZENS UNITED – A START

The Supreme Court’s finding in Citizens United has unleashed a torrent of money into America’s electoral system, and from the standpoint of Republicans, just in time in view of the rapidly changing demographics which forecast Democratic majorities as far as the eye can see. Republican states have done their share of delaying the coming electoral catastrophe with their purging of voter lists, voter suppression tactics, right to work laws and other means of keeping working Democrats poor and away from the polls, but even such anti-democratic measures were failing before Citizens United smoothed the way for a direct flow of billions of dollars into the Republican maw from libertarian nihilists such as the Koch Brothers, the Mercers and assorted other zillionaires interested in their respective bottom lines, which may have added several more cycles of Republican competitiveness at the polls before the inevitable crash as working people and millennials see the light.

I agree with many who have concluded that Citizens United is a cancer on American democracy and has to go. Some want a constitutional amendment to rid ourselves of this deadly carcinoma; others want the Supreme Court to reverse it. Either such remedy would take too much time; our rapidly disappearing democracy might have already left the scene to some form of plutocratic and authoritarian Trump-like form of government in the hands of the superrich during the interim.

Furthermore, even if the Supreme Court were to take up a new case involving the same facts and law as in Citizens United, there is no guarantee that they would reverse it or even if they modified its terms that such modification would apply to their previous holding that corporations are people and that people can give all the money they please to political parties, and as for constitutional amendment, that takes forever and agreement of the two parties. We don’t have the time and we don’t have much agreement on anything these days, from healthcare to resolutions to commend a troop of Boy Scouts from South Omaha for helping widows across the street.

There is a third way to excise this cancer that is devouring our democracy and it is this. Forget going to the Constitution or Supreme Court for relief, both of which take too long and with doubtful results. The answer is to override Citizens United by a statute which provides for (exclusive) public financing of federal elections. It wouldn’t be the first time Congress has passed laws designed to blunt Supreme Court holdings and (if we want our democracy to continue) would be a most welcome one.

Ah, but it will be argued, the parties are at such loggerheads that it would take longer for them to agree to such a law than it would take to get Citizens United meaningfully reversed or the Constitution amended. Wrong. Such a bill calling for public financing of federal elections would become a fiercely debated matter and their proponents and naysayers would be subject to election based at least in part on their stands on this issue. Thus the issue of who is to pay for such elections (that the rich are currently buying) would be back in the hands of the people, which is what democracy was supposed to be about before its theft by the rich and corporate class and their complicit toadies in the Congress hungry for “campaign contributions,” sometimes otherwise known as “bribes.”

Again, ah, but it will cost too much for us taxpayers to fund, you will hear. Wrong. The law can specify what such costs will be, and while at it, can specify the length of such campaigns, both welcome in this age of year round campaigning. As for costs, I here note that if we can afford to give hundreds of billions of dollars in so-called tax “relief” (aka gifts) to the rich and corporate class,  then we can afford a few million for rescuing our democracy from their plutocratic designs.

Chief among the naysayers will be the media, especially those of the radio and TV variety, who make enormous profits during the run-up to elections. Political advertising is big business and easy money – never mind that a system that favors money over issue resolution buys the result and its damaging effects on our democracy.

How about having the people rather than the courts and plutocrats decide how we are to finance our elections? How about a test of majority rule to determine (in effect) what majority shall rule? How about following the democratic maxim that “rulers rule by consent of the governed?”

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in his eloquent closing statement refers to “that government of the people, by the people and for the people” and not of, by and for the rich and corporations nor by judicial edict. The people are “sovereign” in a democracy, and Citizens United has handed our sovereignty and our effective choices of our rulers over to moneychangers who clearly have their bottom lines and not our democracy in mind as they and their minions continue to pillage our treasury under such pretexts as “freedom” and “liberty.” Freedom and liberty for whom?

Let’s regain our sovereignty and end these political and economic thefts. It’s our country, not theirs, and it’s time we started acting like it. Democracy is fragile and in need of constant surveillance and nourishment against those who would destroy it for their own selfish ends. So with Citizens United as a flashing red light to continuation of our democracy, let’s go around it. It’s a start, and on the right road.      GERALD       E

 

 

 

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