Money and Politics
Negative reactions against yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling throwing out corporate and union spending limits continue to pour in from people who apparently think American politics operate according to the spirit of the various campaign finance laws passed since 1974 rather than, well, the way it actually does.
A NYT editorial (“The Court’s Blow to Democracy“) is typical.
With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.
If a member of Congress tries to stand up to a wealthy special interest, its lobbyists can credibly threaten: We’ll spend whatever it takes to defeat you.
Presumably, the NYT’s editors haven’t paid much attention to the health care debate. Or American politics in general as it’s operated during the entirety of my lifetime.
Members of Congress and wannabe presidents (but I repeat myself) spend most of their waking hours raising money now. Corporations or their various PACs, 527s, and associated trade groups spend tremendous amounts of money on issue ads now. All yesterday’s ruling did is allow them to do it directly rather than through artifice.
I’m reminded of Ross Perot, during his infamous NAFTA debate with Al Gore on “Larry King Live,” arguing that, were the treaty to go into effect, we’d have shanty towns all along the Mexican border doing light manufacturing. To illustrate his case, he produced photographs of the shanty towns all along the Mexican border doing light manufacturing.