The scales of justice. The promise of America. One man, one vote. Equal opportunity.
And now we have – what? – we have Thursday’s Supreme Court decision that cavalierly created an expanded definition of free speech. It gave corporations the constitutional right to directly campaign for or against political candidates and spend unlimited money doing it.
I’ve been trying to organize my thinking about this and write something coherent. But my outrage kept turning it into a rant, which isn’t my style. Now, having read and listened to the arguments pro and con (mostly con), I find two things missing from the discussions.
Number 1: Money – the amount of it.
Equating the potential access and political effectiveness of for-profit corporations with unions and advocacy non-profits is preposterous. And yet we hear it everywhere – ‘it’s not just the corporations! Unions can do it too! And the Sierra club’! So it’s fair!
No. It isn’t. Consider: today, in terms of percentage of donations, unions for instance are heavy hitters, often ranking near the top in some Democratic campaigns. But now, after this very un-democratic ruling, it will no longer be a matter of the percentage of money, it will be a matter of HOW MUCH money.
Unions and non-profits do not have access to anything near the billions in profit in the for-profit world. And industry wide, it’s often trillions in profits. Oil and finance alone could leave every advocacy group in the US gasping for air.
That could be what the Sierra Club competes against. And according to the defenders of this dreadful decision, that’s equal. That’s speech – available to us all.
Number 2: Nationality, allegiance to and who is the person anyway
Corporations have no nationality. Or moral imperatives. They have a single obligation – stay alive and make money for their shareholders.
Their shareholders are not all people. Their shareholders are not all American. Nor must they be. Many of their shareholders are investment funds, pension funds etc from all over the world.
Will we see a rush of foreign corporations rushing to our shores to create new subsidiaries – incorporated in the US of course – so they can have political ‘speech’ too?
Roberts and Alito are young. Even Scalia and Thomas are younger than their liberal counterparts. I guess we may expect more of this.