Cancer over democracy: how the Supreme Court poisoned America with its Citizens United decision
Case in point: Oil industry executives testified before Congress this week, facing a deluge of questions, including particularly intense ones from Representatives Ro Khanna, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Katie Porter.
CEOs displayed the same kind of arrogant insolence that Mark Zuckerberg displayed in July of last year when he was dragged to the Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. It was, basically, a smug, “Fuck you, congressman.”
Why weren’t the representatives of Big Oil and Big Tech afraid of the power of Congress? Because at the end of the day, they have that power. The Supreme Court gave it to them with their poisonous Citizens United decision.
As it turns out, Big Oil has spent over $ 450 million over the past decade lobbying the federal government. We used to call it political corruption or even bribery until the Court ruled in Citizens United that money in politics is not money: it is of “freedom of expression”.
And, the court added, corporations are not corporations: they are people, with a First Amendment right to free speech.
Representative Khanna has repeatedly asked the CEOs of Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Shell Oil and BP America if they will stop funding advertising and PR efforts filled with outright lies about climate change. Pretty much every time he asked, he encountered a “fuck you” silence.
These CEOs do indeed own multiple members of Congress, as the world saw when it was the turn of the gentle, obedient Republican members to ask questions that mostly boiled down to, “May I blow up the pillow you’re sitting on?” , Sir ? “
And it’s not just Big Oil. Every industry in America laughs at Congress.
Our elected officials are there, in the minds of American business, to hand out grants and tax breaks, but if they take the slightest step in protecting the American people from giant corporations or predatory billionaires, they are simply swept aside. like annoying lint.
The majority of Americans don’t want Medicare privatized: but we’re over 40% of the way through the Bush Medicare Advantage scam.
Majority of Americans don’t want our post office emptied: Congress withdrew tens of billions from its budget in 2006 after the PO announced it would electrify its fleet of cars (America’s largest ) and DeJoy uses it as an excuse to cut service and increase prices.
The majority of Americans would like a debt-free university like every other developed country in the world: the $ 1.5 trillion student loan industry makes just a few phone calls and the effort dies.
The majority of Americans want a national health care system that genuinely works at low cost to citizens: the health insurance industry hands Joe Lieberman over a million dollars and he kills the public option.
The majority of Americans want something done about the high drug prices: Big Pharma calls out Kurt Schrader, Scott Peters, Kathleen Rice, Kyrsten Sinema and a few other full members of Congress and that’s it.
The majority of Americans want their banks to stop charging them absurd fees for every mistake and want occasional customer service: Big Banking is pulling a few strings and senators dancing like puppets.
Majority of Americans want something done about climate change before our planet becomes uninhabitable: Big Coal and Gas light a fire under Joe Manchin and the whole GOP and that’s it.
The majority of Americans would like open and transparent elections and their democracy to function as in other countries, without barriers to voting or bought-in politicians: the right-wing neofascist billionaires will have the final say on this and it is not going to be announced. good.
The majority of Americans would like net neutrality and businesses to stop spying on them: Big Tech is simply relying on the members of Congress they own and this effort stops abruptly.
The majority of Americans would like well-funded public schools that teach things like civics and critical thinking: the multi-billion dollar charter school industry has the final say.
The majority of Americans would love to be free from gun violence in our homes and streets: the gun industry has the final say here.
Majority of Americans would like good union jobs: giant employers across the country have paid politicians to undermine union protections.
Majority of Americans would like a food supply free of toxic chemicals that harm children and cause cancer: The fast food and processed food giants laugh at us while their chemical buddies hold their beer.
The President of the United States would love all of these things and a few more. He almost certainly won’t get them because the Supreme Court has given right-wing corporations and billionaires the final say on every bill that goes through Congress.
We’re ripped off left and right, from plane tickets to mobile phone service to cable TV and the internet: citizens of Europe, South Korea and Japan pay, on average, about half of what we do because they all enforce competition and don t allow monopolies.
Each industry here is now dominated by 3-5 large companies that operate as a monopoly or an oligopoly, which is why the average American family pays around $ 5,000 more per year for everything, as I documented in The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream.
The Supreme Court of the United States brought us all of this with the vile decision Citizens United and its ancestors, Boston vs. Bellotti, Buckley v. Valeo, and Santa Clara County.
So today we are faced with a real crisis.
The Court has ceded control of Congress to billionaires and their businesses, and only Congress can overrule the Court (Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution). But how does Congress do this when none of the corporations or billionaires who now own Congress want this to happen?
There is only one force that can do this now: the indignation of the citizens. People are really disgusted by this corruption and they vote with it in mind.
Even Donald Trump was elected on the promise to “empty the swamp” of big money corruption in Washington. He claimed he knew how the game played because he played it himself, redeeming politicians whenever needed.
During the August 2015 GOP primary debate, he called out all the other Republicans on stage, saying, “I gave [money] for a lot of people, before that, before two months ago, i was a businessman. I give to everyone. When they call, I give. and you know what? When I need them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.
In September, he echoed this line at the next primary debate, declaring: “Donors, special interests, lobbyists have a very strong power over these people”, as he greeted the other Republicans on stage. “I don’t take money from anyone. No one has control over me except the people of this country.
Unfortunately, enough Americans believed in this professional con man to get him into the White House (with a little help from the Russian oligarchs), but the principle remains: even Republican voters are disgusted by this corruption crisis that the Supreme Court imposed on us.
Over a decade ago, I organized a fundraiser for the Congressional Progressive Caucus with its then president, Representative Raúl Grijalva. It was a small affair with half a dozen politicians and a hundred activists.
Due to the outrage of citizens at the corruption and buyout of our politics since the Supreme Court rewrote the rules of politics, today nearly 100 members of Congress were elected on promises of “no corporate PAC money ”and became members of the Progressive Congressional Caucus. .
Today we are witnessing an epic battle to rebuild America, valiantly fought by progressives like Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Mark Pocan, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. They may lose this battle, but the path they are on is gradually ascending.
This is the only way we can now reclaim our democratic republic from billionaires and corrupt corporations. We need to take money out of politics and the only way to do that is to have more people in power who are not dependent or corrupted by money.
There are elections a year from now and primaries will be held in the months to come. We must do all we can to identify, elect and support politicians who openly and sincerely commit to never selling their souls to the Big Money Devil.