January 27, 2010

Money talks

As a huge fan of free speech, you might assume that I was happy with the Supreme Court's decision last week to allow unlimited spending for corporations during political campaigns. You would be wrong.
In theory, entities, such as Exxon or ADM or the UAW, ought to be accorded the right to express their opinions as much as any individual. The catch is that Exxon expressing its political opinion and me expressing mine are, by definition on drastically different playing fields. Does that make one opinion better than another? It should not.
But if I can't scrape up the $2 million for a spot during the Superbowl, the number of people who will get to hear my (decidedly superior) opinion will be limited to the eight people who read this blog. While Exxon can easily toss big money around, not only for a forum, but a slick ad that will probably not even tell you outright that it's a political campaign ad.
Have you seen the schlock that Bank of America is running, who all but raped the taxpayers of billions of dollars, and when we payed them for the honor of screwing us didn't even bother to be appreciative, let alone contrite? They have that whole "feel good about Bank of America" bullshit going and half the boneheads watching it are thinking, "It's nice that Bank of America cares."
The fact that FoxNews, which is so antiNEWS that it's laughable to include the word in its name, is the number one rated cable network should tell people that Americans, as a whole, are stupid. They are willingly, almost gratefully, accepting of the most blatant pandering and lies simply because it's tied up in a pretty bow.
Let's imagine Aetna has decided to spend some of their billions of dollars to campaign against our current president. They can go to a big advertising company and get a beautiful 30-second television spot during American Idol. That ad will not mention health care reform. It will not talk about the huge profits Aetna has accumulated at your expense. It even may not mention the House or the Senate or the president. It will tug at your heartstrings in soft focus and make you think that the country is "going in the wrong direction." It will hearken back to a "simpler time" while failing to remind you of all the nastiness that was also occurring in that bygone era. In the space of one commercial, thousands of Americans will stupidly think that voting against the current administration will bring back the days when your biggest concern was finding 50¢ to get a cone at the Tast-T-Freez.
This is an extreme example, obviously. But think of what all these corporations can do now that the playing field of political opinion, which was never very level to begin with has now tipped near-vertical.
Now you may understand why I think the Supreme Court has just set democracy back 200 years. I'm not alone in my thoughts. Justice John Paul Stevens predicted that the ruling would "cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress and the states to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process." America will soon give up any pretense of democracy and become purely an oligarchy with token elections.

No comments: