The Supreme Court may decide as soon as tomorrow on the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case involving a corporate-funded anti-Hillary smear ad. It is likely the conservative-dominated activist court will overturn precedent and rule in favor of removing restrictions on corporate spending in elections, with terrible consequences. The 5-4 ruling will say that large companies injecting vast sums to sway election results is "free speech." Imagine, vocal cords on a Cayman Islands post office box!
Common Cause has a report out, titled, Corporate Democracy: Potential fallout from a Supreme Court decision on Citizens United. "Lifting the ban on corporate political spending could unleash a flood of money into the political system and further diminish the public's voice," the report says.
Really, imagine regular people trying to run for office while competing with the massive aggregated financial power of the biggest corporations. And imagine what will happen to anyone who dares to try to go up against their interests when they are able to openly spend any amount needed to get their way. I have come up with some examples of what to expect:
- The cost of running for office - any office - will increase exponentially. Even local campaigns will cost millions of dollars, as big corporations install their chosen representatives. Even locally powerful businesses will join the game, with car dealers paying to get local ordinances passed prohibiting new competitors, etc.
- A member of Congress considers voting against a special tax break for a certain very large corporation - or a law outlawing their competitors - which would bring the company $30 billion. The company lets that representative know they are prepared to spend a measly $200 million on a challenger in the next election, or for them if they vote the right way. How do you think that representative will vote -- and if they do the right thing how long do you expenct them to keep their seat?
- A huge oil company will certainly spend a measly $100 million to install a hand-picked board of county supervisors that will let them put a refinery in the middle of an organic farming or sensitive environmental region.
- Why wouldn't agribusiness spend a mere $1 billion installing legislators who vote to rescind food labeling requirements and food safety regulations?
- How long will it take before laws against monopolies, polluting the environment, etc. are repealed? Each election cycle will see corporate-backed candidates further consolidating the power and financial resources of a very few largest companies.
- Health insurance companies will pay Congress to pass a law ordering everyone to buy their product. Oh wait ...
This is about the biggest corporations remaining dominant, using government power to channel tax dollars their way, while hampering competition -- especially from smaller, less powerful companies. The conservatives on the Court are there thanks to decades of spending by the biggest corporations that swayed public opinion in favor of big-corporation-supporting policies and politicians. We are seeing the results of these so-called "conservative" policies all around us as we lose our houses, raises, jobs and pensions while a select few grow ever richer.
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of this tomorrow it will be the big payoff, forever consolidating big-corporate control of the country and economy and effectively ending what was left of American democracy.
Follow Dave Johnson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dcjohnson