This pretty much describes modern-day America. We are a democracy in name only. Although we the people have the right to vote in free elections every other year, our “representatives” habitually act against us and in favor of corporations. Examples of this abound:
- The 2008 Bank Bailout. Big banks favored the bailout. Most Americans opposed it. Washington sided with the banks.
- The Public Option. Insurance and pharmaceutical companies have long opposed the public option. Most Americans have long demanded it. Last year, Congress sided with the insurance and pharmaceutical companies and excluded the public option from its Healthcare Reform Bill.
- The War on Afghanistan. Defense firms like Lockheed Martin and Boeing love the war. Most Americans oppose it. Washington continues siding with the defense firms.
- Military spending. Defense firms want more military spending. Most Americans want less military spending. Washington continues siding with the defense firms.
- Corporate Tax Loopholes. Big corporations oppose closing corporate tax loopholes. Most Americans favor closing such loopholes. Washington continues siding with big corporations.
The reason that the will of corporations always trumps the will of the American people should be obvious enough. It’s about money. It’s all about money. Corporations dump massive amounts of money into political campaigns and in so doing manage to essentially buy the loyalties of politicians. Political scientist Thomas Ferguson has shown that “[o]ver a long period…you can pretty well predict policies by just looking at concentration of campaign funding.” To see who’s funding your congressperson and senators, just go to OpenSecrets.org.
Although corporations have been buying politicians for some time, it’s now easier than ever, thanks to a January 2010 Supreme Court decision. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Court ruled that corporations can “spend unlimited amounts of their treasuries’ money on political advertisements.” Moreover, the ruling allows such giving “to take place without complete or immediate disclosure of who funds such communications, preventing voters from understanding who is truly behind many political messages.” It should have come as no surprise then that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, “outside spending during the 2010 midterms was more than four times the amount recorded during the 2006 midterm election.” Forty-two percent of this spending came from undisclosed donors.
These facts should outrage all of us, not just leftists and libertarians but also Tea Party activists. Democracy has been subverted before our very eyes and both parties are to blame. (See The vindication of Dick Cheney,NYT confirms Obama made deal to kill Public Option, Obama’s $3.7 Trillion Budget Calls for Military Spending Increases and Deep Cuts to Social Service Programs, The Great Tea Party Sell Out.) For this reason we need to follow the lead of Ralph Nader and Ron Paul and start working together. No more bickering about the things that divide us. Instead we need to join forces against corporatism, which is by and far the most pressing issue of our time. Lefties need to swallow their pride and start promoting the likes of Ron Paul and Chuck Baldwin, and conservatives and libertarians need to start promoting people like Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich. We can hash out our differences later. For now we need to stand as one.