The Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon et al v Federal Election Commission is the next step in our march from democracy to plutocracy allowing the rich to dominate our political system even more than they already have. In a series of 5-4 decisions with “conservatives” in the majority, the Court has ruled that money equals free speech; that corporations are people (at least with regard to political contributions); and that there can be no limits on the amount of money the ruling class can spend on elections.
For many years, wealthy individuals and large corporations have enjoyed greater influence and access to elected representatives than ordinary citizens. With this ruling, the wealthy will be able to literally buy them. The Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelman are already spending billions through a complex network of Political Action Committees and Super PACs in order to sway our elections. Now they and other billionaires will be unleashed to spend monumental sums to elect candidates that will allow them to control Congress.
It’s fitting that this Supreme Court ruling comes on the heels of the death of Charles Keating, Jr. A financier and developer who was a friend of Ronald Reagan, Keating was indicted in the savings and loan scandal that cost the federal government billions. Prior to the failure of his Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, he contributed $1.3 million to the election campaigns of five US Senators in order to buy their influence to help fend off federal regulators. After Lincoln eventually failed, Keating was charged and convicted of 73 counts of fraud, racketeering and conspiracy. Although his conviction was later overturned, he eventually admitted to four counts of wire and bankruptcy fraud.
Given this latest Supreme Court ruling, there are likely to be many more Charles Keatings – those who will use their money to control tax laws; to fend off federal regulators; to eliminate regulations altogether; to scam the government and ordinary people; and to buy their way out of any legal challenges.
It has often been said that elections have consequences. It’s true. I think it’s no exaggeration to say that our democracy is now suffering the consequences of a Supreme Court majority hell-bent on unraveling our Constitution and placing us at the mercy of a government run by a privileged few…a majority given lifetime appointments by Republican presidents.