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Ilene Angel Headshot

The End of America as We Knew It

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Our democracy as we knew it ended yesterday when in a stunning ruling, the Supreme Court annihilated federal legislation dating back to 1947 that restricted corporate spending in political campaigns.

Justices in favor of the ruling cited the First Amendment as their grounds. So I, being the curious type, decided to read the First Amendment for myself. Since I am sure I'm not alone in my lack of fingertip-ready knowledge of the Constitution, I thought I'd share the First Amendment with you, so you too can read the basis for the ruling"

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The only trouble with this amendment being the basis for the ruling is that this issue is not about free speech; it's about very, very expensive speech. And it is not about the "people's" right to free speech; it is about corporations' rights to say what they want unfettered, regardless of the veracity of their content, and that gets to the heart of the matter of the ruling, which is that the Supreme Court just ruled that Corporation = American citizen, with all the rights, no, more than all the rights of an individual citizen.

What does that mean exactly? It means that corporate money will purchase political office, in exchange for which the corporation will be sheltered and in charge. So if you think we suffer from that now with health insurance companies wielding too much influence in Washington, just wait a few months until the midterms, and then the next general election. No need to worry about healthcare reform; it's just been reformed, and not in our favor.

Does the current weather scare you? The threat of increased global warming? Wait until Exxon and Halliburton own Washington lock, stock, and barrel of oil. There won't be any seeking of alternative forms of clean energy. I'm not exactly sure that we're doing that now, mind you, but for sure the only "alternative" will be oil, oil, oil. So don't plan on those wars ending any time soon in the Middle East.

And as for that right in the amendment for the people to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances?" Forget it. If the government is owned by corporations, they won't be redressing anything, particularly your grievances.

If I sound mildly upset about the downfall of the country I love, it is because few others seem to be, well, except for Keith Olbermann.

Not surprisingly, this ruling barely got a mention on network news programs last night. And as for this morning, I can speak only to Good Morning America because that's what I watched. Not a mention. Not a word. And Nightline last night spent all but the last few minutes of the show talking about John Edwards' affair and love child.

I don't mean to belittle the self-inflicted pain of John Edwards, but it seems to me that a story about someone who is neither serving in any public office currently nor running for any office is not news. Call me crazy. But it does involve sex and cancer, so maybe it is "human interest?"

While we still have a fairly freely elected government, I suggest we use this rapidly evaporating remaining time with it to make our voices are heard. There are petitions to sign ( www.savedemocracy.net ), and Congresspeople to contact, and since the Supreme Court has made itself known as anything but an independent, bipartisan entity, I suggest we write them some love notes as well. Tell 'em what a stellar job they're doing dismantling the government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." And since we're still talking the First Amendment here, I'd like to quote that other great American document, the Gettysburg Address, by saying on a personal note that I hope our democracy truly "shall not perish from this earth."