Today the U.S. Senate voted on Senate Joint Resolution 19, a constitutional amendment that would once again allow the federal and state governments to place limits on political campaign spending because our illustrious Supreme Court doesn’t know the difference between free speech and property.
That said, the “Democracy for All” amendment merits passage. The reason that it won’t pass is the very reason that it should.
The GOP filibustered; it will ultimately fail; big damn surprise.
It will fail for any number of reasons. It can fail on a procedural vote, it can fail because it won’t get the two-thirds supermajority that constitutional amendments need for passage. It will never get to the House, where it also would fail, nor to the states, where it would need ratification by three-fourths of legislatures.
American democracy has been abducted, shipped off to a secret rendition, black ops site by the wealthy donor class and will likely never be seen again in our lifetime. While both parties have superdonors, Republicans have more of them and benefit from a 2-to-1 advantage in independent spending in the 2012 election cycle.
Thanks to a series of despicable decisions by the Supreme Court (see:Citizen’s United), effective political speech now belongs only to those who can afford it… the same condition they wanted for healthcare (the world’s only for-profit health industry) and will never stop trying to get back. What’s more, donors can now easily keep their names secret.
The Supreme Court has ruled that money is a form of speech that cannot be curtailed. But as Justice John Paul Stevens wrote so succinctly in 2000, upholding Missouri’s campaign finance limits, “Money is property; it is not speech.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other agents of the plutocrats are couching the vote on SJR 19 as a free-speech issue. Mr. McConnell appears to think that the public will be fooled, or that it doesn’t care. He went along with Majority Leader Harry Reid’s, D-Nev., plans to spend this week debating the amendment.
But let’s be honest. This is not about free speech rights. It is about property rights, specifically whether those with the most property should have the biggest say in the way government is run. Without enough money to hire consultants and staff and to bombard voters with television ads, candidates for federal and statewide offices have virtually no chance of being elected.
Voters appear to sense that. Polls have shown continued, but not urgent, support for campaign finance limits. Washington Republicans appear to have just about as much regard for the will of the people as a cat has for a mouse.
So Senator Reid chose to spend the week debating campaign finance limits, knowing it wouldn’t pass but hoping the issue would resonate in the November elections. Democrats this fall will run hard against the influence of Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists who sit at the top of the plutocratic pyramid. The GOP is “addicted to Koch,” quipped Senator Reid.
Will voters care? This is the particularly wicked part of today’s campaign finance reality. Big donors can spend so much shaping and distorting the message that Americans vote against their own interests, and frequently do. Billionaire donors are aided by a rapidly increasing industry of political “professionals” who suck this tit.
It is cynicism in the extreme, but it works. And the longer it works, the harder it will be to undo. Real change will only occur with a turnover of two or three seats on the Supreme Court — and just wait for the confirmation fights when that chance occurs.
This long-shot constitutional amendment is mostly an educational opportunity. It’s worth paying attention to it.
Your government is being renditioned, waterboarded and thrown in a dungeon by a very small number of super-rich donors–and even the once-mighty United States fourth estate is silent.
Harvey A. Gold