As you’ve probably heard, corporations are now “people”—humanoids that are equivalent to you and me. This miraculous metamorphosis happened on January 21. Accompanied by a blinding bolt of lightning, and a terrifying jolt of thunder, five Dr. Frankensteins on the Supreme Court threw a judicial switch that endowed these pulseless paper entities with the human right to speak politically.
Never mind that inanimate corporate constructs have no tongue, brain, heart, or soul—the five judicial fabricators breathed unprecedented legal life into corporations, decreeing that the vast wealth held in their corporate treasuries is their voice. With a cry of “Shazam!” the Court ruled that, henceforth, every corporation—from Wal-Mart to Wall Street—is entitled to “speak” by spending unlimited sums from their treasuries to elect or defeat candidates for any and all public offices in our land, from city council to the Presidency.
By a bare 5-4 majority, the justices created an artificial, über-wealthy, political monster that will overpower everyone else’s voices. For example, just the 100 largest corporations have assets totaling more than $13 trillion. No combination of human people’s political organizations can amass even a tiny fraction of that spending power.
With their ruling, five unelected guys in black robes have subverted our sovereignty with a semantic perversion that twists special-interest things into “people” and money into “speech.” In so doing, the Supreme Five have substituted their personal political views for the clearly expressed wisdom of America’s founders, every Congress since Teddy Roosevelt’s time, twenty-two states, dozens of cities, the court’s own precedents, and the people themselves.
Bizarrely, the five Court corporatists on the Court seemed to think that their sneak attack on America’s democratic ideals was so cleverly done that it would be meekly accepted by the public and even widely applauded. Hardly. The ink of their signatures on this absurd opinion wasn’t dry before the justices were pelted with ridicule.
Others raised an intriguing constitutional conundrum that the Court obviously failed to contemplate. Since the Thirteenth Amendment bans slavery, which is the ownership of a person, the newly born corporate “persons” cannot legally be bought and sold. Thus Wall Street—now a slave market—must be shut down! Let us all join hands and march for this new civil rights cause, chanting: “Free the Corporate Slaves!”
Meanwhile, Americans of all political stripes have risen in overwhelming opposition to the Court’s contortion of both the Constitution and common sense. With eight of ten Americans decrying the decree and nearly as many demanding that it be reversed, we can expect swift and decisive action from Congress. Right?
Uh . . . no. First, Republican leaders (who’ve consistently proven to be tail-wagging kowtowers to corporate power) flatly say they will oppose any legislation to restrict the ruling. Second, Democrats have designated Senator Chuck Schumer of New York to lead their effort to undo the decision. Schumer is a notorious CEO-hugging Democrat who serves as the party’s chief shaker of the corporate money tree, so sending him into this battle is like going lion hunting with a fly swatter.
Sure enough, Schumer has started by declaring that he wants a reform that can get “bipartisan support” in the Senate, and he is not even considering anything as bold or effective as a constitutional amendment to force these corporate behemoths out of our elections. Instead, he’s lamely offering a patchwork of regulatory fixes designed to cover up this theft of political power from actual people—fixes that corporate lawyers and lobbyists will riddle with loopholes.
To get remedies that work, We the People will have to take direct grassroots action. Already, three major national coalitions have formed to retrieve our democratic authority from the Court and its corporate clients: www.movetoamend.org, www.freespeechforpeople.org, and www.fixcongressfirst.org. Let’s get connected, and get moving.
Jim Hightower is a regular contributor to The Progressive. He currently writes a nationally-syndicated column carried by 75 independent weekly newspapers and other publications.
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