Jan 272010
Authors: Wade McManus

Chalk another one up for big business and this time you can thank the United States Supreme Court for the fixed game.
A week ago, the Supreme Court made a ruling that strengthens the grip of large corporations on American politics. Now it will be even easier for CEO bigwigs to buy federal elections.

The court’s ruling last Thursday has deeply shaken the will of democracy in the United States when it overturned a 20-year-old ruling. It removed limitations that were placed on business spending on elections. It eliminated some of the few protections the average American has against the overwhelming influence business has over our national elections.

This means wealthy individuals won’t be the only people throwing around wads of cash to produce the outcome that they want in an election, but Big Business can now tap into their seemingly bottomless pit of cash to get their friends elected. Now it’s likely that we will find failed CEO’s who have run companies six feet into the ground governing our nation, not that it has never happened before (Bush!).

The Supreme Court justified its attack on the American people by stating that the original ruling 20 years ago was unconstitutional, for the limitations were a violation of freedom of speech. Not only is this one of the ugliest displays of judicial activism in American history, but it also seems to imply that a corporation equals a citizen.

What’s next? The right to bear arms — so they can shoot the competition? The claim is that limiting business spending on national elections was a form of censorship, though yelling fire in a crowded movie theater would probably be less dangerous than what the attack ads are going to say.

Now they can buy advertisements without any direct connection to the candidate they are supporting, alleviating the responsibility of slander. Next thing you know you will be hearing ads saying, “Senator ‘so and so’ hates veterans and hates the poor; did I mention he is a rapist?” Then in the last two seconds of the ad you will not hear the low, muffled voice running a million miles a second say, “Senator ‘so and so’ does not hate veterans or the poor, and we made the rapist thing up.”

Every time you turn on the TV or open a newspaper you will be bombarded with political ads, hardly any of which will justify why you should vote for a certain candidate, but only reveal every embarrassment of the candidate that you should not vote for. This is not setting the course to fair elections, but instead drowning us in corporate interests, so when we attempt to raise our voice you will only hear the gargle of our lungs filling with water.

As our voice is muffled, American democracy will be suffocated. In fact, the ruling threatens the will of nearly half the states in the country. Twenty-four states have established their own, often stricter, limitations on corporate spending during elections and it’s likely that these too will disappear.

We must not allow Big Business to steal elections, to drown our own concerns, to undermine the government “for the people, by the people.” We cannot allow our government to be “for business, bought by business.”

That is the track on which we are headed, and the Supreme Court ruling may have been the point of no return. But if there is any hope of rescuing this situation the responsibility is in our hands. Only conscience spending and consuming can weaken the power of these corporations. Remember, every dollar spent is a vote. Vote wisely.

Wade McManus is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:41 pm

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