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Dick Heller Headshot

The Selling of the Precedent

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It seems to me that the most appalling fact about our national dialogue in recent times is that lies seem to trump truth. Swift Boaters diminish John Kerry's war record. Saddam definitely had WMD. Health care reform will create death panels. A few old e-mails are enough to prove that global warming science is unreliable. Somehow it is very difficult for truth to prevail in these times.

The latest lie we are being told is that corporations are just the same as people. The Supreme Court has ruled that corporate entities have the same rights in our electoral process as we human beings do. The Founding Fathers specifically fought against this perception. Thomas Jefferson stated his wish to "crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations." In the early twentieth century laws were passed to curtail the influence of said "moneyed corporations" after a tainted election, which was deeply influenced by the insurance industry.

Those historic precedents are now set aside by the recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee. It seems it should have been okay for Citizens United to air their severely anti-Hillary Clinton documentary during the 2008 election process. The vagaries of campaign funding are complex enough already. Now the door is open for any deep-pocketed organization to say whatever it wishes about the candidates brave (or foolish) enough to offer themselves up for our votes.

Our democracy is at risk. Ten years ago, five men on the Supreme Court determined that thousands of our fellow citizens' votes didn't need to be counted, but their decision was not to be seen as a precedent. Now they've announced, defying their predecessor's precedents, that your friendly neighborhood corporation has a heart and soul just like you do. Let's push our elected representatives in Congress to enact legislation to limit, by irrefutable statute, the ability of corporations to taint our national dialogue.