Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dehumanizing Democracy

The Supreme Court today made a horribly unwise decision. It blew past the previous inane ruling made decades ago that "money is speech" and jumped to the colossally stupid conclusion that "there is no distinction between individuals and corporations as it applies to spending on federal campaigns."

In other words, corporate spending on political campaigns is protected by the First Amendment.

This tranforms the political sphere, like the public sphere before it, into a marketplace - that most sacred temple of our national religion of capitalism.

It is difficult for me to express how utterly harmful this is to our already screwed-up campaign financing situation. The next president will be forced to spend well over a billion dollars to get elected, most of that money will now inevitably shift toward negative campaigning (because it works so effectively on the feeble minds of our voting population not because it actually communicates anything of intellectual value in the voting process) and counter-negative campaigning.

And, of course, the biggest contributors will only give big if they can expect a return on their investment. Stupidity will be awash in political cash.

As good and objective analysis as can be found anywhere was on the
PBS News Hour tonight. So you can view analysis and read about both sides of this issue there.

Me? I'm not the least bit objective about this decision. First of all, the prior court ruling that protects money as a form of speech was wrong to begin with. Money is not speech. Money is the vehicle of consumption, the medium of commerce, the force by which capitalism rules the anxious and depressed hearts and minds of our pathetic consumer society. But, despite the old saying, money does not talk. It is a commodity, not speech.

Speech is about language and language actions - spoken, written, symbolized, artistically created and dramatized words and ideas. There are no words or ideas inherent in money. That is not what money is for. Language is what is protected under our Constitution's First Amendment.

To equate money with language (money is speech) is to dehumanize language itself. It means that money is as human as any of us where speech acts are concerned and has a right on par with the act of speaking simply because it costs money to control the language of TV and newspaper ads. In other words, our consumerist reality makes it OK for money to have the same rights as any person and, by definition, persons with more money can tangibly leverage greater rights to expression.

You see how insane this shit is?? The bum and the millionaire both have the right to speak. But, the millionaire has more right to speak because he can afford the cost of language in the marketplace. He can multiply his speech acts and is free to do so. This is called "equality". Lunacy.

Next, to the moment at hand, corporations are not people. This should be self-evident but it obviously isn't to the five twisted minds in the US Supreme Court that voted this way. Under the ruling today corporations are given protection under the Constitution when they are NEVER even mentioned in our Constitution. Corporations are equated with human citizenry where speech is concerned. Corporations are equal to human Being in the political process.

Can corporations vote? No. Yet, somehow, they can spend all the money they want and play an integral part of our election process. This is the further dehumanization of politics. Human Being and corporate Being are indistinguishable as far as the First Amendment is concerned.

Corporations have no Constitutional right to representation. None. Corporations, political action groups, etc. have as much Constitutional political "voice" as dogs and cats. They have no "right" to be protected in this concern.

Yet a right was manufactured for them today. There is no other word for it. The Supreme Court manufactured a form of speech years ago and the legacy of that fallacy came home to roost today. Corporations are very much going to be represented in the future because the game of special interests (which has been played for so long in Washington) now has a Constitutional coronation.

What was needed was the strictest form of campaign contribution limits. PACs should have been eliminated. No one should have been allowed to contribute more than $2,000 annually in any way, shape, or form. Instead, campaign finance has been made a "marketplace" and the rot of consumerism continues to fester, even unto the very essence of our ever weakening democracy.

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