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article imageOp-Ed: Citizens United was bad and if the RNC prevails, it'll get worse

By Daniel R. Cobb     Jan 21, 2012 in Politics
Comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart have used humor to highlight the American travesty called Citizens United. But many believe that the Supreme Court’s decision was a disaster for this democracy. And now the Republicans want to make it much worse
For over a century, the U.S. has banned corporations from giving financial contributions to political campaigns. The obvious reasoning was that corporations with deep pockets could have excessive influence over elections, dominate the media with one-sided messaging, and throw open the doors to conflicts of interest, fraud, and corruption. American history is full of examples of how easily money corrupts our politicians. Citizens United simply made it legal.
In 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court, stacked by G.W. Bush with right-wing activist judges, threw out 100 years of legislation embodied in four major congressional acts (beginning with the Tillman Act of 1907). The Court decided that those abstract legal entities called corporations are now just other forms of “people” and that money is actually free speech. And because free speech cannot be limited, the Court gave corporations and the uber-wealthy the right to spend unlimited sums on political campaigns. As predicted, massive and undocumented monies are now flooding into campaign coffers.
Why bother with the appearance of a democracy?
Democracy is on life support in America. And now the Republican National Committee wants to drive the last nail into its coffin. With Citizens United, the only remaining limit is that corporations and the wealthy cannot donate unlimited monies directly to the candidates, but must give it to committees (PACS). The PACs are required to be independent from candidates and cannot coordinate their activities or advertising with the candidate. This rule is somehow supposed to avoid the obvious quid pro quo corruption. Now, the Republican National Committee doesn’t see the need for such a silly pretense.
On January 10, 2012, the RNC filed a brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to overturn the 1907 law banning corporations from giving money directly to candidates. The RNC claims the law is unconstitutional, stating: “The complete ban both is over-inclusive to this aim and artificially disadvantages political party and candidate committees,” they wrote. “It is over-inclusive because it bans all corporate donations without regard to the ability of corporate donors to attribute their donations to individuals.”
The RNC apparently feels that everyone already knows where the billions are going anyway; why not just give it all directly to the politicians? Why pretend that we have a functional democracy at all? The paperwork would be so much simpler. We could even get rid of the Federal Elections Commission. We don’t need the FEC, do we?
This war on American democracy is being waged by the ultra-wealthy, people like the Koch brothers and others who have one agenda: To defeat the American citizen and to truly dominate and control government and the economy. With unlimited contributions, corporations and the super wealthy can dominate the election process, decide who gets elected, and even write the legislation that their favored politicians will obediently pass. As a politician, to win an election in America you will get into bed with the really big money, or you will lose. And while in office you will do their bidding and pass their legislation without question, or in the next election you will be crushed under a mountain of accusations and lies, and quickly replaced. An honest politician who wants to serve democracy, the citizenry, cannot survive. It’s ironic. The decision known as "Citizens United" should really be called "Citizens Defeated".
As an American, don’t underestimate what is a stake. In other nations the battle for democracy is often lethal, with government soldiers equipped with AK-47s, tanks, and helicopter gunships. The people have few rights, and so have nothing to lose but their lives. In their intense desperation, they give it all.
In the U.S. we already have our rights, but take them utterly for granted. We’re sound sleep. The attack doesn’t come from AK-47s at 3:00 am. It’s far more insidious, like an undiscovered but aggressive cancer. While we’re living our hectic traffic-jam, workaday lives, it comes quietly from our own corrupt Supreme Court. It comes from a Federal Elections Commission that ignores flagrant violations of campaign finance laws. It comes from rules revised out if camera sight, and bills signed at 10:00 pm New Years eve. And it comes from our blind and tired indifference.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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