The Supreme Court will address corporate influence on federal elections today when they hand down a decision on the “Hillary, the movie” campaign finance case before them. At least five of the terms in that last sentence will make most people’s eyes glaze over, but listen up. The idea that corporations should hold the same rights as people is lethal to true democracy. Not instantly, like a bullet, but incessantly, like carbon monoxide. Corporate influence hides in the shadows and hallways of Washington D.C. You can’t see it, you can’t taste it and exposure to it will lull you to sleep, but given too much, your democracy stops breathing.
The idea that corporations have the same right to free speech as an individual is an invention of the court. It’s not in the constitution, it’s not in legislation, but it will continue to be found in arguments before the bench until it is shot down, an action this current, very corporate, version of the court will likely never undertake.
I find it ironic that these corporations, entities that will move cash and facilities offshore in an instant to improve profits, argue for their rights as if they were citizens of this country. They want representation without taxation. Corporations, by nature, are beholden to no one but their shareholders. They are citizens of no country, and prove it time and time again.
In case you missed the headlines: Exxon, AIG, Dupont, GM, United Health Care, Firestone, Ford, Enron, RJ Reynolds. All of these companies, and more, have damaged this country’s health, environment and/or financial stability without remorse. Until corporations can be incarcerated, until corporations can bleed, they will not deserve to be considered citizens of this country.
If you doubt the influence of corporations on lawmakers, doubt no longer. There is no greater example of Congress bowing to lobbyists than the current health insurance debate. Over two-thirds of the people in this country support some form of public option, yet it won’t even appear in the final bill. Apparently our elected officials fear corporate dollars more than the voices of the people.
That’s my argument, one this current court would never give the time of day. But why should they listen to me? I just obey laws, pay taxes and vote.