We have a lot of debates in this country about who or what is considered a person under the law.
The Supreme Court usually ends up settling these debates. Because of Roe v. Wade, we know that a fetus is considered a person once the mother is three months pregnant. The Court has also let us know that corporations are people too, something I don’t understand because corporations are inanimate objects. The day that Bank of America or Independence Blue Cross walks up to me and asks me if I want to go out for a cup of coffee is the day I’ll consider them people.
Today, the folks at the Supreme Court handed the corporations even more personhood than they’ve ever had before. By a 5-4 vote, the Court decided in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission to allow corporations to throw as much money as they want to at the political process in the name of free speech.
In other words, we are about to enter what I’d like to call the WuTang Era of Politics where “Cash rules everything around me, CREAM get the money, dolla, dolla bill y’all!”
Under the Supreme Court’s ruling, unions and corporations can break out their fatter-than-the-average person’s-wallets anytime during the federal election cycle and try to influence things in their favor instead of, well, folks like me who are unemployed graduate students who don’t have health insurance.
As anyone who knows me knows, I believe that the First Amendment came down on stone tablets from Mount Sinai. I believe that free speech is sacrosanct. I may think that what you’re saying is silly, outrageous, or just plain wrong, but I’ll kick the ass of anyone who tries to keep you from saying it. The First Amendment not only protects speech we like, it protects speech we don’t.
But while a lot of folks are trying to use my respect for the First Amendment to try and get me to think that this decision is okay, it’s not working.
First of all, corporations have been able to shout to high heaven through their money for years now. If you want proof of that, you need only look at the whole health care debate. If corporations weren’t already speaking loudly and proudly at the expense of those of us who are actual people, we’d be celebrating the 16th anniversary of national health care.
Why give entities that have more money than most of us will see in our lifetimes the right to control our country?
Secondly, has anyone thought about what this is going to do in terms of the candidates themselves? Since money talks, are our elected officials going to listen to the people who actually take a few moments to vote or to the corporations who have given them big bucks to run?
I think that I know the answer to that, and it ain’t good.
So what happens next?
Being an optimist and all, my hope is that Americans will look at this and say, “Hell to the no!”
But Americans have broken my heart before.