Friday, January 22, 2010

Community and Democracy

OK, so a day or so ago I wrote about community. The political landscape is a key driver of community action and the Supreme Court's decision regarding campaign funding, specifically by corporations, promises to fundamentally change that landscape.

Keith Olbermann opines that the decision has put the US government up for sale to the highest bidder. He points out that all parties on the political spectrum will find themselves being burned by this ruling. He includes Prof. Jonathon Turley, a Constitutional law scholar in the discussion. Turley supports free speech (and would have joined the majority), but agrees that there will be bad effects from this. He has a lot of good insights about the decision.

The Chicago Tribune takes a far more sanguine view.. They believe that the average American voter will see through the shills. Steve Chapman agrees. I am not convinced that is true.

In my opinion, this will further entrench the influence of big money, regardless of source. Corporations are painted as Teh Evahl, however the unions are in bed with the CEOs as far as political money is concerned. Think not? Take a good look at the folks bankrolling our leaders at Open Secrets. You could be surprised. Now they have a greater opportunity to purchase influence.

Political reform is needed. Campaign finance reform is needed. The electorate needs to know as much as possible about the people they choose as leaders. Glitzy ads provide a great deal of fluff and little of real substance. Eric Zorn dissected the Quinn/Hynes show at the debate. They fiddle as Illinos burns. The current crop of ads I have seen for that race continue down that sorry trail. Why wouldn't we expect to see more of the same if there is corporate (or union) resolve to support a candidate?

Right now we parse every candidate's words, actions and ads to discern the truth. That task will become even more important, but if the electorate is struggling now to keep up, it is likely to become exhausted in the near term and throw in the towel. For the long term, a Pandora's box has been opened. I don't believe the Court intended this decision to be the catalyst for a government by the highest bidder, of the highest bidder and for the highest bidder, but in the long term that is where I believe we will find ourselves.

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