THE BLOG
11/05/2014 08:04 pm ET Updated Jan 05, 2015

Citizens United? Latinos, Blacks, Wage Earners and All of Us

Marilyn Nieves via Getty Images

Don't discount President Obama's decision to delay executive action on deportation and immigration reform until after the midterm election as a key factor in Tuesday's colossal losses for the Democratic Party. It was one of Obama and his team's worst mistakes leading into the midterms.

You don't turn your back on a new and growing constituency that backed you 71 percent against Mitt Romney when about 40 percent reportedly went for George W. Bush. In a swing state like Colorado, that surely made a difference with the decisive and well-organized Latino vote. Latino constituencies come from much more active voting traditions; in Puerto Rico election turnouts are often in the 80 percentile, unheard of in any U.S. presidential election.

The recent Republican wave of Jim Crow election fraud laws also likely had a terrible effect. The Democratic Party in every state is going to have to make sure everyone can easily get a free photo voter ID -- and what is so hard about that?

In Puerto Rico, a still densely populated U.S. territory with by far fewer resources than any US state, this is no problem. Need a free photo voter registration id card? Easy. You'll encounter lines only if you do it at the last minute days before the election. When nearly half of your voter base lives below the official poverty level, as is the case in Puerto Rico, you don't make it harder to vote -- even prisoners vote here.

Another place for the Democratic Party -- if it is to appear distinct from the Republican Party at all--to win back votes, is to chip away at felony disenfranchisement laws, as Prop 47 seems to have just done in California.

It is also a disgrace that the only hope for a hike in the $7.25 federal minimum wage appears to be at the state level, and good news that four states successfully addressed this through ballot measures Tuesday. Wrap your heads around $7.25 an hour. I babysat and washed dishes as a teenager thirty-five years ago for almost the same wages. We might as well change the name of the country to USA-Mart.

President Obama and too many Democrats, obviously all beholden to major donors and interests, have not sufficiently demonstrated that they give a hoot about wage earners, despite positive numbers going public on the economic recovery. Yet even if they do, there is no contest against the forces of Citizens United. Not to mention ALEC at the state legislative level -- the reason every governor's race was as or more important than Senate seats.

I don't think we can begin to underestimate what a game changer the 2010 Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United is. Overturning Citizens United needs to be more important for the Democratic Party than repealing ObamaCare has been for the Republicans.

Why doesn't every American know that the Citizens United ruling is the biggest threat to so-called modern democracy as we know it? Because the corporate mass media is probably already reaping billions in those advertising dollars! Democrats can robo email for $15 donations all they want, but for every Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, there may be ten Koch-like monsters for whom $15 million is what $15 single dollars is to a voter like me.

Domestic policy under the 1% is beginning to look a lot like foreign policy under both parties. In other words, whatever rights and protections we assume come with citizenship will mean less and less and less for the average citizen under Citizens United.

For those struggling in the middle class who don't see their destinies tied up with other groups inconveniently overlooked this time around, think again. Or as the great comedian Lily Tomlin once darkly observed, "we are all in this alone."

Beware the thinking that the midterms draw a lower voter turnout and that recently won seats will be up for grabs come 2016. For those remotely left of center, whatever that means anymore, who think that this day after the election was a mighty hangover, just wait.