I’m sure you might have been as glad to know as I was that Sandra Day O’Connor was unhappy with the 5-4 in the Supreme Court this week. Nice of her to notice that the two Bush appointed member, joining the rest of the Bush v. Gore 5, overturned her on campaign finance. And, yes, thanks, Sandra Day for all that.
But, lest we appear inattentive, our thanks should go to those who made the final killing off of representative democracy possible, the actual Federalist Society members of the court, their law schools and mentors, the Republican Party, Ralph Nader - without whom Bush would never have been president to appoint Roberts and Alito, the media that promoted the Bush II putsch, and, last but not least the Senate of the United States who have confirmed one after another of these dangerous, far right lunatics to courts. And they confirmed them knowingly, as every person in the hearings chambers and beyond knew the nominees were lying through their teeth. And special thanks should go to those who have, throughout the decades, made and maintained the string of corporate personhood rulings. It should be noticed that this is one in a series of those entirely Supreme Court legislated laws, judicial constitution writing, far past making law from the bench*.
Like other dysfunction in the United States, not allowed to be discussed in polite society, this has been a long time coming and in full and obvious development. This is the dream of Richard Nixon, the ultimate goal of Anglo-American conservatives, a real corporate oligarchy, perhaps in time not even covered with the thinnest veneer of elections and consent of the governed. Indeed, other than maintaining the mechanisms to take our wealth, they might do without most of that governing nonsense. They’ll probably contract it out. One of the gleeful Republican goons I heard on the radio said it was going to be like the “wild west”.
A number of lawyerly commentators have said that this ruling could have unintended consequences. How unintended is a thing which will probably be subject to a great deal of that conventional hypocrisy mentioned in paragraph two above. Anthony Kennedy’s decision, indeed invalidates his own precedent from as recently as last year on judicial elections. While I’m sure he’s dangerously out of touch with reality, I don’t think the Joe Lieberman of the Supreme Court is that careless about his research or, as far as we have it in us to pierce the veil, droolingly ga-ga. I don’t think that the horrors of what will result from this decision are largely unknown now. It is the destruction of electoral democracy in the United States. As I have been screaming at the top of my lungs for the past four years DEMOCRACY IS ONLY POSSIBLE WHEN THE PEOPLE MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION. DEMOCRACY ONLY WORKS WHEN THOSE DECISIONS ARE BASED IN REALITY AND RESULT IN AN EFFECTIVELY BENEFICIAL RESULT.
Anything and everything that prevents that from happening damages democracy and so results in harm to The People and the communities they survive in. The damage includes the purfumed, polite and decorous actions of Supreme Courts, Senate Committees, impartial “free speech” advocates, judical commentators, and others who have laid the ground work for this disaster. The destruction of democracy has been done in nice voices, in lofty rhetoric and moral posturing this time. “Free speech,” “freedom of the press” what could sound nicer than that? So many fewer syllables than “legitimate government can exist only with the just consent of the governed”. The proof to which those freedoms exercised by corporations are useful to the destruction of democracy is best demonstrated not by symbol but by a specimen of the actual thing, the post-facto recounting of the 2000 ballots in Florida, which showed that the original Bush v. Gore 5 had appointed George W. Bush as President of the United States illegitimately, against the vote. And the media pooh poohed it as being water under the bridge. But, then why not? After all the Chief Justice, in broad daylight, said that The People don’t have a right to vote and to have that vote count to absolute silence by the freest press we have had in our history. Freedom of the press divorced by the obligation to serve the possibility of self-government by The People turns out to be dangerous to it.
Democracy has been on the way out for a long, long time. It could be future Road Show memorabilia as soon as a year from now, if it exists at all. The abject failure of the kind of Democrats sitting in Washington to do our business, their refusal to produce an effectively beneficial result, might be looked on as another specimen in the study of how America lost democracy. I’d like to still be proven wrong but am not expecting it just this week. I’ve been clinging to the hope that wasn’t true all year. But maybe it’s not hope that maintains my efforts to pull what good can be gotten out of the ruins of Democracy, it’s the knowledge that it is a duty to try, up to and even past the end.
How bad can it get. The worse case scenario? I think very, very bad. I believe that the shreds of the common good that still hold on are some of the few things holding it together. Those will be gone in corporate oligarchy. By their actions and those of their party, the Republicans and cowardly Democrats, America is already a very violent society with potential to be extremely violent. Guns are prevalent, ammunition, explosives and the precursors of explosives are ubiquitous and unregulated, cults and individuals, both violent and potentially violent, are a common product of our media. Mass shootings are so common that they hardly make the front page anymore.
I fear that the potential for violence is enormous, encouraged by the media through their entertainment - for which thanks can go to free speech and press absolutists. There are not enough police, national state local .... or doughnut fed militias to stem a real wild west atmosphere in the United States. It has the potential to spiral into a blood bath. There are not enough private security guards to protect the gated lives of the elite, not for long. Even Senators and Supreme Court Justices could experience it, first hand. That elite will deceive itself to the end. Once they run things, life will continue on its present course, as surely as the cycles of boom and bust do in the only part of life they hold sacred. They don’t learn anymore than Senators in the Democratic Caucus have. Their policies will produce misery on a scale we have not yet experienced in our life times.
I’m sure that many people who read this will smile and gently shake their heads. They don’t believe things could go so totally nuts. I’ll point to the other disaster this week, Brown winning Ted Kennedy’s seat, an irrational but not unpredictable result flowing directly from the storm of financial, healthcare and other policies in Washington. Obama voters cast protest votes for Brown over the direction of his Geithner-Summers oriented policies and the lunatic spectacle of the sell-out health care legislation in the Senate. Many who didn’t cast a desperate and irrational vote against that, simply gave up.
That’s the direction, I am afraid is coming with corporate rule. As even the media has noticed, it’s a different enrironment. This ruling, overturning a century of law and precedent imposed a totally changed landscape, one that we haven’t experienced before. I don’t know the details or what any eventual conclusions to it will be. Whatever it is this or some other, alternative, disaster, we’re in it.
* It might be worth noting, if anyone ever tries to put together a representative democracy again, that the House of Representatives, the most equally representative part of government was that which was least implicated in the murder of of representative government. Not that conservatives in that body aren’t thrilled with it, they just lacked the opportunity to take a strong hand in it. As anyone could have predicted it was the Senate and Judiciary, the least equal, representative and accountable parts of the government. I’d also predict that you can add the United States to the long list of countries with a presidential executive which has devolved into despotism. Turns out we’re not such a special case, after all.