U.S. Supreme Court decisions can seem distant and often irrelevant to main street. But the latest one, allowing unlimited cash support of … or opposition to … political candidates should rattle the teeth from “tea baggers” to the ACLU. To say nothing of local Democrats, Republicans and independents.

While all recent appointees to the court have steadfastly testified they wouldn’t be “activist” judges making law from the bench, that decision may be the most “activist” in the last 75 years. It all but neuters campaign finance law and certainly is activist.

That decision makes the two party system the three party system. With unfettered ability to select which candidates favor boardroom or membership desires, corporations and unions can dump unlimited dollars into support of their anointed one or to defeat anyone they target. They can determine the outcome of an election with more certainty than any voter. Or group of voters.

Nationally, smaller state election outcomes are especially threatened. In that category I’d put the Dakota’s, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and possibly Oregon. Making a large political media buy in Southern California, for example, the cost would be in the millions of dollars. But in these smaller states, you could get huge amounts of advertising covering them all for about the same amount. Or less.

For example, in Oregon, one television buy in Portland gives you the entire state except west of the Cascades from Eugene south to the California line. By far the majority of Oregon voters covered with one buy. One now unlimited buy.

Do the math. California has two senators; each of the above states has two. So, for the same dollars, you’re talking 18 senators. Not two. That’s why political parties … and voters … in lesser populated states now may lose control of their own political fate. Unlimited dollars.
Make no mistake: money runs politics and elects candidates. Always has. Always will. Ads reach far more voters than candidates do in person and have a huge effect on us as we form our opinions. Many of us feel there’s already far too much money in politics. But, as Al Jolson said, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

The court has placed corporate board and union influence and resources between the office holder and the voter, regardless of party. Without major local, regional or national support, no candidate can mount a successful bid for office if the incumbent is backed by such deep pockets. More than ever before, it will now be possible to “buy” an office or an election.

Corporations are odd ducks in some ways. They enjoy many legal protections individuals do. And should. Freedom of speech is one. The right to equal protection under the law is another. Well, this court decision certainly protects corporate rights. But should they have more freedom of speech because they have more dollars?

Should a major international corporation have the guaranteed right to find some empty suit, dress him/her up professionally, then spend millions to secure a national political office in which the empty suit will vote the corporate/union way? It seems to me the door is now open ever further to allow such behavior.

Local, state and national office holders in our backyard already enjoy sizeable corporate and/or union support or they wouldn’t be in office. Fact of life. As long as they do, and as long as no one comes along that could divert that support, those now serving will continue to do so if they stay in corporate/union favor. In many cases, we just happen to have an extraordinarily good crop. So it can work.

But there’s another side. If those with the cash are being well-served but the voter is not, it doesn’t work. If some hack fills the seat and can rely on corporate or union deep pockets, voters are not being served and better people with better talents have little chance to roust the empty suit. Pure political economics.

Those who have taken their fear and anger to the streets should look at this court and ask “What just happened?” There’s no question the court is stacked with conservatives. But this decision wasn’t conservative in any way. In fact, for those in the streets and independents looking for change, the “Boston Massacre” of two weeks ago may be the last message you’ll send.

A guy in Idaho said it best. “The court has taken ‘We the people’ out of the Constitution and replaced it with ‘GE the people’.”

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