Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Want Your Democracy Back?

How do you like living in a plutocratic nation? Two years ago the U.S. Supreme Court gave us Citizens United. Happy Anniversary!
by Charlie Leck

If you want some good reading for today, turn to E.J. Dionne Jr.’s column in the Washington Post, The Citizens United Catastrophe.

“We have seen the world created by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and it doesn’t work. Oh, yes, it works nicely for the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country, especially if they want to shroud their efforts to influence politics behind shell corporations. It just doesn’t happen to work if you think we are a democracy and not a plutocracy.”

My wife has been saying for quite a long time now that we’ve become a plutocracy. Nevertheless, the sham that we are a democracy continues.

I suppose I can just keep whining about it and gnashing my teeth and writing seething blogs OR maybe I can do something about it. That’s what I’m trying to figure out. So are a lot of other people.

The facts are, however, that U.S. Supreme Court decisions are powerful instruments that establish abiding and certain law. Overturning them is extremely difficult. One sure way to do it is through a constitutional amendment; however, that’s not easy either. If you don’t know the process required to amend the Constitution, you really ought to find out about it. Constitutional amendments are rare.

U.S. Representative Jim McGovern has offered a bill in the House of Representatives that would start the process. It will not likely be passed. If you want to hear him explain the bill, take a look below.

Common Cause may be out biggest hope in driving some kind of action that will set aside the utterly stupid Supreme Court decision of two years ago. If you don’t know about this watchdog organization, you really ought to learn more. Their video, explaining how Citizens United happened, is the best Intro101 course you’ll ever find.

The Supreme Court of the United States, in this 5-4 decision, simply erred – they made a mistake. The decision has distorted the great American debate that should take place in our elections. They have tipped the balance and given substantially more power to corporate America than that held by the people.

Do we, as people, own equal shares of the nation? That was the idea behind the constitution – that you and I would own equal shares of the process behind the government of the United States. As I said above, that balance has now been tipped.

Here’s the deal!
It’s really quite up to you to figure out how we’re going to get this terrible situation changed. As a people, how are we going to take back control? If you haven’t understood that this is what the whole OCCUPY movement is all about, you’ve been sleep walking. If you do understand, you probably have more sympathy for the protesters than most people do.

It is going to take a new American revolution to return our political system to the place where our founding fathers intended it to be. It likely will not happen in my life time, but it will happen. It will happen as the realization grows that we, the people alone, no longer own the government.

This is what a plutocracy is!
Returning to Dionne’s column, you can get a pretty good picture of what a plutocracy is from the following …

“If ever a court majority legislated from the bench (with Bush’s own appointees leading the way), it was the bunch that voted for Citizens United. Did a single justice in the majority even imagine a world of super PACs and phony corporations set up for the sole purpose of disguising a donor’s identity? Did they think that a presidential candidacy might be kept alive largely through the generosity of a Las Vegas gambling magnate with important financial interests in China? Did they consider that the democratizing gains made in the last presidential campaign through the rise of small online contributors might be wiped out by the brute force of millionaires and billionaires determined to have their way?”

I like the image Dionne creates of contemporary candidates wearing corporate logos on their backs – smaller ones, of course, on their sleeves for those companies that have given only millions to the campaign. Oh, my, oh my!

Want your democracy back?
If you want your democracy back, then listen up! Do something, stupid! Do something!

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