Friday, November 16, 2018


America For Sale.

November 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) When the Supreme Court decided in favor of the group Citizens United in its lawsuit against the Federal Elections Commission back in 2010, it opened the floodgates allowing money to pour into political campaigns that has continued unabated.  Pundits predict that at least a record $5 billion will be spent in this election cycle.

The Court’s majority opinion in the 5 to 4 decision was twofold:

1) corporations, as associations of individuals, have free speech rights

and

2) because spending money is essential to disseminating speech, limiting the ability to spend money is the same as limiting speech and is therefore unconstitutional.  When you posit that “money is speech”, the intended consequence gives those with the most money the loudest voices in the political arena.  This gave rise to the super PACs.

Super PACs are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money supporting causes and candidates and while they cannot coordinate with individual campaigns, they often operate on parallel tracks.  For instance, they can conduct advertising campaigns, research, polling and voter turnout activities in support of their favored candidates.  In fact, according to David Magleby from the political science department at Brigham Young University speaking in a recent Washington Post article, “They’re playing a very large role in every part of the American democracy.”

Since the Citizens United decision in 2010 eleven donors – individuals and husband and wife teams – have contributed over $1 billion to super PACs on both sides of the aisle pushing their causes and candidates; everything from deregulation, to the environment, to moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.  And because “money is speech”, they get to have this outsized influence on issues of concern to them either personally or in direct support of their business interests.

The top players in super PACs are:

 

Republican                                                                 Democrat

Sheldon Adelson $287.5 million                                    Tom Steyer $213.8 million

Richard Uihlein $59.9 million                             Michael Bloomberg $123.4 million

Paul Singer $41.9 million                                               Fred Eychaner $68 million

Robert Mercer $40.9 million                                         Donald Sussman $62.9 million

Joe Ricketts $38.4 million James Simons $57.9 million

George Soros $39.4 million

The Citizens United decision is the modern day corollary of the Court’s earlier Dred Scott decision.  Where the latter said that “black people, whether enslaved or free,  had no rights that white people were bound to respect, the former is saying “rich people, by virtue of their money, have more political rights than the rest of us.”  That’s not the way it’s supposed to work in a representative democracy, but right now, neither party is making a serious effort to reverse this travesty.

With the mid-term elections fast approaching, we still have the vote as the equalizer: one person, one vote.  People power is the equalizer.  If you do not exercise your franchise, you have abdicated your responsibility not only to the republic, but to yourself and your family.  We cannot make changes to the many things that need changing, like the Citizens United decision, by opting out of the political process.

Who would have ever thought that in 2018 we’d have to defend birthright citizenship?  Who could have imagined that the current commander-in-chief would give an order for the military to fire on unarmed civilians seeking asylum?  How much longer can we sit idly by while “climate deniers” allow the government and corporations to wreak havoc on the environment?  All of these things are driven by politics and the politicians we elect.

This coming Tuesday is Election Day, vote like your life depends on it (it does).  And this Wednesday, it’s on to 2020.

Staff Writer; Harry Sewell


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