Thursday’s Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited political spending by corporations may turn out to be George W. Bush’s greatest victory, one that could tilt the political landscape in dramatic ways.
The former president managed to get the U.S. into two wars that may prove to be unwinnable, but the court’s hotly debated 5-4 ruling — which far overreached the case that sparked it — was made possible by Bush’s success in getting conservative justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito appointed to the court. Most political analysts and common sense agree that it will stack the deck in favor of future Republican candidates, who tend to be much chummier with big business.
Advocates of the decision claim it is a victory for free speech as defined under the First Amendment, defining money as speech. What it actually does, it seems to me, is give giant corporations the ability to buy so much airtime and ad space that they’ll virtually drown out the free speech of ordinary folks. You don’t have to pay individual voters in order to buy an election.
Given the economic devastation brought on our country by the irresponsible actions of big banks, the environmental damage associated with big oil, and skyrocketing health care costs related to big pharma, it hardly seems to be a smart idea to augment the mega-companies’ mega-lobbying influence with the ability to pour mega-dollars into individual partisan elections.
Our election system is crazy enough as it is — adding another layer of influence-buying can only make it worse. It doesn’t take a political genius to see the court’s decision opening a broad new road paved with serious trouble.
I hope Congress will have the good sense and the courage to put the Supreme Court’s new majority in its place and bring some sanity back to the system.