Sara Whitman

The Supreme Court: Wave Goodbye

Filed By Sara Whitman | January 28, 2010 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: constitutional amendment, corporate donations, corporations are people, election reform, influencing elections, Supreme Court

Can't hide my head in the sand anymore. I'd like to, but it's time to discuss the recent Supreme Court decision.


What the Supreme Court did, was to rule that corporations are entitled to "personhood" in a way that allows unlimited campaign contributions. Tom Delay is very excited because this means he probably won't go to jail on the money laundering charges he's facing. Other than that, all I can say is democracy is no longer for the people, by the people. It will be decided by corporations.

Because they are people, too.

Now, it's true that they have always had some semblance of personhood. This ruling takes that a step farther into elections. Yes, they will, just as people do, have to have their contributions recorded.

But the elections will already be decided. Imagine, ExxonMobil with the opportunity to buy a few representatives to get their environmental policies pushed through. Or the health insurance industry pocketing a couple senators to have the outcome of health reform balanced in a way that shows up in a positive bottom line for them.

Why, you say, they already do that. Yes, I would agree to some extent they do. But now? The sky is the limit. And it's legal.

So what can be done?

Not much. We can hope that corporations will want to have a positive image, which is always a line audit reports of most company annual reports as a possible risk. Although one could argue Exxon ran the Valdez into the ground, spilled oil, ruined the environment and hasn't paid a dime for it.

People still pull into Exxon to fill up. I don't but look at their profits. Please. No one cares. A bag of chips, good TV show, and most Americans are happy.

Shareholder resolutions? How can you argue that they should not be contributing when those contributions positively effect their bottom line? You can't.

Ok, so roll up your sleeves and say, enough with this Supreme Court. Let's have term limits. First, that takes a constitutional amendment. The Democrats can't even pass a bill saying people like hot dogs right now, let alone something as serious as changing the constitution. Besides, it would ultimately politicize even further the part of the government that is not suppose to be political.

I know, hard not to snicker at that one, isn't it?

Campaign finance reform? Um, let's remember about the hot dogs. Congress can't pass anything right now. And the right wing conservatives see this as playing into their favor. Ultimately, it won't. They will have short term wins- I see Roe v. Wade going down very soon. If corporations can have personhood and never be live, sentient beings, why isn't an embryo that has the possibility of becoming such a thing?

Brought to you by the makers of Pampers.

Scott Brown winning the senate seat is nothing compared to this folks. For the first time in all my years of activism, I feel completely helpless. I wish I could take a pill, like in the Matrix, and be stupid and unaware. As Hamlet asked,

"Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them."

Only I'd add a question mark- by opposing, do we end them?

I'm not sure I know what the point is anymore. I guess we can all wave goodbye to what little democracy we had left.

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beergoggles | January 28, 2010 9:44 PM

I'd advise you to give Glenn Greenwalds multipage take on this before going for the carpel tunnel with the hand wringing.

Corporations have owned all our politicians before this ruling. This just lowers the bar a bit more for the rest of the small fry like the ACLU and similar organizations to get involved.

My hope is that China buys enough of our politicians to fix the economy.

beergoggles | January 28, 2010 9:46 PM

Err correction "give Glenn Greenwald's multipage take on this a read".

I'm blaming it on the bottle of wine I just finished.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | January 29, 2010 1:33 AM

I agree Sara, there is utterly nothing good to say about this. And we are supposed to be a model for rising democracies? It is a step backward to the bad old days when state legislatures around the United States elected their senators in back room deals to congress laden with special interest mandates.

We all know Washington runs on money. This just makes those who make up, "the best government money can buy" have to do a little less work in their efforts to get re-elected and get their political line of Bullsh*t out for the huddled masses of consumers to digest. We have after all been bombarded by "commercials" for example to recommend to our doctors what drugs we should take, so why not just allow these companies to also recommend to us how we vote. After all we who have been largely trampled into the ground lack the prospective to see the big picture or at least that seems to be the view point of those who we are so lucky to cast our vote for. If we are to believe that the Court did us a big favor by this decision, I am sure they will soon be selling us ocean front property located in Nebraska as well.

I know the government has always been up to the highest bidder- and that there has been law that gave corporations some level of personhood for many years.

this, however, was a big giant step. I also can't help think that if a corporation- something that can never be a live, thinking being- can have personhood... why not an embryo? it at least has the potential of being a being...

not good. if you're not wringing your hands, then you still have your head in the sand.

beergoggles | January 29, 2010 8:23 AM

So u agree that govt has always been bought and sold and yet fret about this? In that case I'm missing ur logical leap. Srsly, after the whole swiftboat ads with Kerry, NOW u think its a problem?

My favorite part of the SOTU was when he smacked the SCOTUS around for that decision and you could see all the people around the justices standing up and clapping and whooping while they sat their scowling.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | January 29, 2010 10:15 PM

They always scowl. Have you ever played poker with a judge?

Representing their branch of government while in the house of another branch of government they the "Supremes" never ordinarily respond in any way, but those mumbles were telling.

Similarly the Joint Chiefs being "apolitical" do not respond beyond polite applause at the presidents arrival and conclusion.

I'm with you Sara, at least in my perception that we are fucked. Sorry but there is no polite way to express my sense of utter powerlessness. A bag of chips and a good TV show? Well, at least I know where to find some chips.

Our problem as human beings lies in the fertile ground of our conditioned consciousness. From the moment we are born til the time we kick it, the tabula rasa that is infantile consciousness is fertile ground for the creation of the 'good citizen'. Marketable gratification-oriented consumer units, divided into an endless array of defensible identities, who will fear what they are told to fear and willingly submit to the first charlatan who promises to protect them.

We twenty first century humans suffer from the illusion, continually reinforced by corporate media/state that we are separate. This works as a tool of capitalism against nature. And nature, including humans, experience great suffering as a result.

And the destructive, divisive nature of identity politics, as a tool of the state, continues to be very effective at preventing even the most obvious concensus. For example, the expression Human Rights. An alien visitor to the planet, upon hearing this term, would deduce that all humans have rights. Then someone would have explain to the alien that some humans are more deserving of rights than others, based on...well all kinds of stuff.

Piercing this illusion of separation requires a simple starting point: We are human. Beyond this, all division is artificial. We need no more than our common humanity to change the course we are on. Yet even here on the pages of one my favorite websites, the rancor seems to fracture into the ugly politics of 'us against them'.

Query: 'We must hang together or we will surely hang apart"

You don't think Ben Franklin was gay, huh?