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Shannyn Moore: Court hands keys to corporations, democracy be damned

Shannyn Moore

This week I listened to one of the right-wing sock puppets yammer on about what a victory for freedom the most recent campaign finance court decision was. Honestly. The guy was more about "free and dumb" than freedom.

The court, in yet another 5-4 decision, basically created eBay for elections. What we didn't need was more stinking money in our election process but the five say otherwise. Freedom of speech is now equated with how much money you have and are willing to spend. Of course, the reverse doesn't work. You can't walk into a store and purchase items with your words. It's insane. If money is speech, most of us are mute.

Justice Stephen Breyer, in his dissent said, "If the court in Citizens United opened a door, today's decision may well open a floodgate."

Oh, great.

My dear Alaskans, it's going to get much worse. There's a lot up for grabs in Alaska, and not a lot of voters to persuade. There are cities with more votes for mayor than Alaska has for top slots in Washington, D.C.

The election process is already a few sump pumps short of a democracy -- and sinking. The last hundred years or so the U.S. Supreme Court has systematically transferred to corporations the rights of actual citizens.

You hear about how immigrants are coming to our shores and taking services and how we need to build a fence but you don't hear remotely comparable bitching and moaning about foreign corporations coming here, getting subsidized, using resources and dodging taxes. Heck, they can kill American workers in industrial accidents without being considered foreign terrorists. Since the court seems nothing if not predictably misguided, I expect next they'll decide corporations are entitled to impose their "religious beliefs" on their workers. The Hobby Lobby case will determine if a corporation can deny its employees health care benefits its owners don't like -- like birth control.

The whole concept is wrong-headed. More rights for corporations and fewer rights for individual Americans, with no end in sight.

Get ready to pledge allegiance to the United Corporations of America. Picture a flag with 50 corporate logos instead of stars. No more voting hassles, just an endless public auction of politicians. As they say, the one with the gold rules.

The part that really chaps me is we fought a revolutionary war as much to throw off the power of the East India Trading Company as to dump England's royal parasites. You know, the original tea party.

Once our nation was founded, our leaders were specific in their desire to control corporations. A charter had to be granted by a state. Corporations could deal in one commodity and were only permitted to exist for several decades. They were only allowed to own their own stocks. What property they owned had to be for the purposes of business goals, not for investment. Oh, here's a kicker: Our founders, who knew a thing or two about bad government, had laws on the books making "any political contribution by corporations a criminal offense."

In 1816, Thomas Jefferson said, "I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

Sorry, T.J., we didn't crush them. We feed and water them at the expense of the neediest among us, and our highest court scurries to hand them the inalienable rights that were supposed to belong to the people.

In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln suspected corporations were profiting from both sides of the Civil War:

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless."

Sorry, Abe, you had it right. Or maybe it's worse than you feared.

If only our leaders and the court could channel President Theodore Roosevelt:

"We can do nothing of good in the way of regulating and supervising these corporations until we fix clearly in our minds that we are not attacking the corporations, but endeavoring to do away with any evil in them. We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to serve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth."

Shannyn Moore is a radio host on 1480 AM in Washington, D.C., and on Netroots Radio.


Shannyn Moore
commentBy SHANNYN MOORE