Saturday, April 12, 2014

Buying politicians made easy

The video above is a parody ad, making fun of the recent US Supreme Court's ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC, which further hands power to oligarchs and plutocrats. It makes a good point.

When the Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that corporations are people, they also declared the corporation “people” are more equal than real people, because they could engage in unlimited spending in election campaigns. While super rich individuals could technically do this, too, they were prevented from donating to as many politicians as they wanted to. McCutcheon changed that by allowing individuals to donate to as many political candidates and parties as they want, up to the maximum for each one.

So, a mega rich person can now donate the maximum amount allowed by law to all Congressional candidates of a certain political party, for example. If they also have a corporation that spends unlimited amounts in campaigns, it means that the super-rich have unprecedented opportunities to influence the outcome of elections, and in ways that ordinary people could never hope to match.

Taken together, Citizens United and McCutcheon mark an unprecented shift in power in the US, away form ordinary citizens and toward the oligarchs and plutocrats. They also create the near certainty of corruption as the the oligarchs and plutocrats and plutocrats effectively “buy” members of Congress to enact legislation favourable to them.

Many people have contempt for the US Congress because of the influence that Big Money and Big Corporations already have; I’m saying it’s going to get a whole lot worse.

The solution, ultimately, is to amend the US Constitution to overturn both Citizens United and McCutcheon. But how likely is that to happen with the deck stacked so strongly in favour of the very folks that such a constitutional amendment would seek to rein in? Is it even be possible to amend the Constitution with so much money and power opposed to that happening? Anything’s possible, but I think it’ll be a long, difficult and entirely uphill struggle, if it happens at all.

So, in the meantime, we can mock the oligarchs and plutocrats and the inevitable corruption that’s coming. It’s not enough, of course; I just hope that it’s not the only reaction to the decline of American democracy that can happen.

The group behind this video, Represent.US, has another video (link goes to YouTube) that explains the McCutcheon ruling in detail.

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