Columbia, MO – Politically, it is the best of times and the worst of times. It is the present and, with all due respect to Charles Dickens, its noisiest critics of the regime insist on being heard, for good and for evil.
In 1984, Ronald Reagan said, “We proclaimed a dream of an America that would be ‘a shining city on a hill.’”
A few weeks later, Mario Cuomo referred to Dickens when he rebutted the president’s analogy. “In fact,” he said, “it is a tale of two cities.”
Cuomo saw “another part to the shining the city.” Those who are of the middle and lower economic classes. Who cannot afford housing or an education. Who are homeless and hungry. Who have seen their dreams “evaporate.”
Today, these two cities still exist, separated by a widening gulf between corporate America and an America “of the people, by the people and for the people.” The American dream is parishing this earth. The United States Supreme Court has ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
Citizens United made a documentary titled “Hillary: The Movie.” Yes, Clinton’s campaign was upset by 90-minutes of bashing and beating. More so, the United States Election Commission was upset because a for-profit corporation, to get “around” McCain-Feingold / 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Finance Act, sponsored the movie.
Citizens United claimed that the law was a violation of the First Amendment, that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech…” However, that Amendment was made in terms of the people. Until 1886.
In Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, the Court’s findings stated that “the defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteen Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” I will allow you to make your own conclusion of the language and ruling. I have.
Today, the costs of elections are astronomical. Mr. Obama spent just short of $750 million on his presidential bid. John McCain, about $360 million. That is more money than the gross national product of 47 countries.
Even in rural America, the cost to run a state representative race in 2008 exceeded $625,000.
Justice Anthony Robert’s majority opinion has opened the floodgates to even more spending, with more unlimited moneys coming from unlimited funds. With this ruling, a corporation can spend $10 million on campaign commercials and contributions as an “individual.” America’s middle-class American has problems donating $1,000. Or $100.
Newt Gingrich told National Public Radio that the ruling will allow “a middle-class candidate go out and find allies and supporters who are able to help them match the rich.” That, “you as a citizen ought to the right to complain about your incumbent congressman, or your incumbent senator, or your incumbent president – and you should not be constrained by the government, you should not risk criminal proceedings.”
The fallacy in these comments? The Constitution begins with “We the people,” not “We the individual” or “We the corporation.” It talks about the “general welfare” of the people, not of the corporate. The Fourteenth Amendment speaks to “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Not “all individuals.”
I cannot, no matter how hard I try, make General Electric, Pfizer, General Motors, Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway or any other corporation a person. Treat them as an “individual” in terms of protection of the shareholders. Do not to give disadvantage or prevent and individual who is not “corporate sweetheart” from running for government due the outrageous expense.
We, as citizens, do have the right to openly and forcefully complain about incumbent elected official, school administrators, appointed city managers and anyone else as long as it is not libelous. We have the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The First Amendment says so.
Justices Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Alito and Thomas have taken the rights of “We the People,” and have made them “We the Corporations.” They are wrong.