Sunday, January 31, 2010

How Many Voices Are Louder Than Yours?

I've noticed, of course, that all progressive folk -- including Prexy -- are pretty upset about the Supremes' recent ruling knocking down campaign finance laws against corporate "persons" buying campaign-specific ads at election time. About which, a few things.

First, I'm not an enthusiast for the whole notion of a corporate person in the first place, and I regard their influence on American politics as, generally, a baleful thing. But people hear about "corporate" buying of ads and think automatically of Wal-mart and Eli Lilly and Citicorp, while the entities being muzzled included actual non-commercial political organizations. Sure, I also lack enthusiasm for the protection of Pfizer's "political speech." But is that really the same thing as the Sierra Club's, or the National Rifle Association's, or MoveOn.org's, or the American Life League's?

Yes, it is unjust that these cash-fueled mega-loudspeakers wield the sort of influence that they do. But in our concern for keeping unelected organizations from being able to buy themselves big chunks-o-government, why neglect the real big boy: AIPAC and the rest of the Israel lobby? Anyone read Walt and Mearsheimer's book? They lay out a ton of evidence showing that what the Lobby wants, the Lobby gets -- in spades. And they do it with money: money that they'll shower on compliant incumbents, or on the opponents of noncompliant ones. Does that bother anybody except me?

Finally, whose protection is the motivation for campaign-finance laws in general? Obvious answer: those who make such laws -- the incumbents. With the general cooperation of lapdog "journalists," and with the power (and paid staffs) of their offices, they blast the would-be upstarts who feebly attempt to buck a Congressional re-election rate that would do credit to the old Soviet Communist Party. Who's going to clip their their wings?

1 comment:

akaGaGa said...

I haven't been able to find a lot of enthusiasm for this one, either way. If corporations - which are simply legal mechanisms for individuals to take ridiculous gambles while protecting their personal wealth - did not exist, then this is all a moot point. So that's how I treat it.

And, as you point out, every law that is passed benefits the incumbents. That's the purpose of American laws. For many years, I arbitrarily voted against incumbents, thinking that it would at least take some time before the newcomers learned how to manipulate the system. While it did make me feel better, you can see how well that plan worked. I need a Plan D.