Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Price Of Complacency

While the level of conflict and the degrees of severity can be debated - and have been previously by our staff - what isn't up for debate is where the next American war is happening. It is already going on, and its location is right here, in America. It's a class war - one where far too many Americans don't even know which side represents their interests.

Our comments today aren't hyperbole. We wish they were.

Unfortunately, the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court earlier this year is, as we've mentioned before, proving itself to be the kind of full-frontal attack on democracy we feared it could be.

There are still those, however, who think that there's nothing wrong with unlimited outside influences in politics, and that those outside influences should be able to raise and spend as much money as they want to influence our representatives and elections.

Here's where they're wrong - and where the war is really taking place.

In the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court, led by its activist conservative majority, ruled that unlimited outside campaign spending by corporations or unions "do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. And the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy."

The problem is, Americans are indeed losing faith in their democracy.

Setting aside the statistical fact that only about 30 percent of Americans think members of EITHER major party can fix the problems we now face, the capability of any organization to buy unlimited amounts of media exposure - and not be forced to tell us where that money is coming from - scares anyone who isn't living in some academic fantasy land.

If corporations are persons, and money is equal to free speech - both positions we vehemently disagree with - and corporations can spend as much money as they want to influence voters, than corporations (and unions, to a significantly more restricted degree) have more free speech than other Americans.

The idea of Americans being equal to one another is the first basic premise of who we are as a country, one from which a large portion of our laws emanate. It's why we have the Bill of Rights, the 13th and the 19th Amendments. It's why we have the Civil Rights Bill and the Voting Rights Act. It's even why we had worked incredibly hard on campaign finance reform multiple times in our nation's history, before the Supreme Court made its fatally flawed decision.

Without the hope and opportunity that any one American can achieve an equal level of happiness and security equal to any other American, there is no reason for us to continue to be a nation.

If that isn't cause for "the electorate to lose faith in this democracy", we're not sure what is.

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