October 7, 2010

Citizens United v democracy

Corporate entities are not human beings: they do not eat, breathe, live, nor die. Neither do they have any overriding ethical or moral commitments. They are artificial constructs with only the legal mandate – their sole purpose of existence – to increase profit. What the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court effectively granted last January was the unlimited potential of corporations, whether they be General Motors, Fox News, Freedom Works, or labor unions, to spend as much money on elections as “they” choose.

Over the several months since the ruling was decided, as reported by NY Times, we have seen numerous small to medium size companies, “mainly on the Republican side…jumping in” to contribute huge sums of cash via various 501 organizations which enable them to do so without having to disclose individual donors. For example, $400,000 was given by American Financial Group directly to Karl Rove’s campaign spending group, American Crossroads GPS, a contribution that would not have been possible prior to Citizens United. And together, with its close affiliate American Crossroads which is not a 501, (and incidentally received 91% of $2.6 million from just three individuals in the month of August alone,) American Crossroads GPS is expected to spend more than $50 million this fall on elections.

Plutocracy works, sure. But if you think these efforts have been bi-partisan, think again. As reported by Politico, as of 9/24/2010, 

pro-Republican organizations had paid for a total of $23.6 million worth of ads compared to $4.8 million for Democratic-aligned groups. And it's only going to get worse: Over the next four weeks, GOP groups have $9.4 million worth of TV ads reserved across 40 districts compared to $1.3 million in five districts for Democratic groups.

“And the future?” asks Kevin Drum from Mother Jones. “Probably worse. Big publicly traded companies may still be staying on the sidelines this year to see how things shake out, but that's not likely to last.”

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