A reflection on the election
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
This year’s mid-term election event can be summed up in three words: money, lies, and gullibility. It was a mockery of the democratic process.
First there is the infamous Jan. 21, 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case giving corporations and unions the same First Amendment free-speech rights as individuals, allowing them to spend unlimited amounts (running into hundreds of millions of dollars) on campaign ads on behalf of candidates that will serve their interests. Overnight, the Supreme Court, under the direction of the newly appointed Chief Justice John Roberts, became an “activist” court (long condemned by conservatives) expanding a simple case of whether a politically-biased “documentary” film was subject to the restrictions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and turned it into an opportunity to reverse more than 200 years of Court decisions limiting campaign finance contributions from corporate entities and corporate funded political organizations. This in spite of Chief Justice Roberts’ statement in his Senate confirmation hearing in response to a question from Senator Arlen Specter, “I do think that it is a jolt to the legal system when you overrule a precedent. Precedent plays an important role in promoting stability and evenhandedness. It is not enough – the court has emphasized this on several occasions – that you think the prior decision was wrongly decided”. So much for the integrity of Chief Justice Roberts. Furthermore, there is presently no oversight requirement for testing the truth of the ads the 527 and 503(c)(4) political action groups using these unrestricted funds can circulate attacking candidates they oppose. As a result, most of these ads are rife with distortions, innuendos, or outright falsehoods. Individuals of enormous wealth can fund these ads anonymously, and there is no mechanism for making them responsible for their misleading or false content.
To make matters worse, it is a sad fact that all too many Americans are gullible enough to swallow these misleading messages hook, line, and sinker – gullible enough to be so hoodwinked by the propaganda that is being foisted upon them that they will flock to the polls to vote in favor of corporate and moneyed interests, even when that means voting against their own.
The cumulative effect of all these factors is to enhance the power of money to determine who will be elected to public office at both the State and National level. That money already owns the Supreme Court is clear from its perverse behavior in the Citizens United case. Our 220-year democracy is in serious danger of being subverted into a plutocracy – a government of the wealthy for the wealthy.
The cry of the tea partiers is “Take Back Our Country”. The problem is they are targeting the wrong culprit. In a “hostile takeover,” our country is being stolen from us by moneyed interests. The tea partiers and the Democrats need to resolve their differences and work together to take back our country from their common enemy and the most serious threat to our democracy – the power of wealth.
– Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent.
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