Have you ever wondered why most polls reflect a decidedly liberal issue tilt and yet state and national elections fill seats with Republicans, and rather radical ones at that?
Here are 4 of the 5 core reasons: Money, control of voting machines, easy manipulation of the unsophisticated voter through the 3 G’s (God, Guns, Gays) and cheating and intimidation as reflected in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.
In 2000, a busload of white-collar GOP goons violently descended upon the office of the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections and shut down a Bush/Gore recount. Later 5 creative Supreme Court Justices trashed the Florida Supreme Court vote recount method and decided the presidency for the rest of the nation, awarding the highest office in the land by 1 electoral vote over the minimum to a president who mangled the country for the next 8 years.
The 5th and most recent reason Republicans prevail more often than polling would suggest they should is destined to become sadly apparent this current election cycle-voter suppression through state Voter ID legislation.
Until there are substantial Democratic legislative and gubernatorial majorities in the states and a huge Democratic dominance of congress and the courts, we are doomed to continue to follow this aberrant governance of partisanship and gridlock nationally, accompanied by legislation dedicated to do nothing but perpetuate power retention in the states.
Starting today, I’d going to tackle campaign financing as an ongoing specialty. I want PoliticusUSA visitors to know how the money system works. Let’s start with a definition of the obscene Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, foisted upon us in early 2010. This ruling changed the campaign contribution landscape forever especially when accompanied by a later ruling on Clean Elections, a wonderful alternative to buying elections that the Supremes, under orders of their corporate superiors, had to head off at the pass.
The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision was handed down January 21, 2010 after being initially argued March 24th, 2009 then re-argued September 9th of that same year. It was the predictable 5-4 decision with Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy reliably on the side of the corporate power structure while Stevens (he was to retire 5 months later), Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor voted in the minority opting to correctly interpret the constitution. Corporations v. the Constitution. In today’s judicial climate, I’m betting on the corporations every time.
The outcome seemed pre-ordained, of course. Antonin Scalia is a radical ideologue whose every key decision is political. Clarence Thomas is just along for the right-wing ride having miraculously survived the vetting process when incredibly, then Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Joe Biden, refused to call four ladies to testify in support of Anita’s Hill’s allegations of Thomas’ sexual harassment. Relative newcomer, G.W. Bush appointee, Samuel Alito does what he’s told and John Roberts, the little popinjay, multi-millionaire, Federalist Chief Justice presses the same ultra-conservative button on every ruling. At 57 we’re stuck with this guy for at least 10-20 more years. Reagan appointee, Anthony Kennedy, rounds out the federalist five having ascended to the court on the smoky trail of one of reject Douglas Ginsburg’s joints and the simultaneous turning away of Robert Bork, who was owned by huge corporations even before it became fashionable.
Kennedy is often called the ‘swing vote’ of the current court. If you study his cases, he’ll surprise on social issues every Haley’s comet, but he’s really only considered ‘moderate’ because his conservative colleagues are even further to the right than bona fide right-winger Kennedy is willing to go. He was anything but a swing vote when it came to Citizens United having written the majority opinion. Let’s say he knows what his talking buildings want when it really counts.
In Citizens United, the court majority assigned corporations and unions free speech political contribution personhood under the First Amendment; an agonizing stretch that sabotaged long-standing precedent and activists and honorable legislator’s efforts to clean up and reform a system already tainted by multiple campaign contribution scandals. Unions stayed in the mix because it’s just a matter of time before they’re completely irrelevant if their gloriously naïve gun-nut membership keeps voting in those who would kill the union movement. We’re not far from that sad eventuality as I write this. Unions were also included so as to prove to the world the decision was non-partisan. “Lookie, we know union members for the most part vote Democrat (I’m not persuaded that’s true; see above), and yet we included them in the ruling.”
Citizens United allows unlimited corporate, union and individual contributions to super PACs. I said UNLIMITED! The only limitation is that such contributions cannot be made directly to the campaign and the candidate can have no interaction whatsoever with the super PACs. ROTFLMAO. If there is a single person on planet earth who doesn’t think that candidate’s campaigns and usually the candidates themselves aren’t in constant touch with their huge contributors I have yet to meet him or her. There’s also a relatively recent development that may even knock these interaction prohibitions out of the box.
Coming as no surprise, The New York Times reported in February of this year how Mitt Romney (you’re surprised?) probably cheats the system. Romney and his super PAC, Restore Our Future, both happen to share the same consulting firm TargetPoint Consulting. Any notes passed back and forth like a bunch of giggly little 4th graders? Just asking.
Our system of funding campaigns has been completely, 100%, maybe irrevocably compromised. In future articles, I’ll expand a bit on Citizens United to demonstrate just how insidious it is. I’ll also talk about another court decision guaranteeing that the good guys are denied a seat at the table. I’ll look behind the scenes at the FEC and check how it may be contributing substantially to our current ethical contributions crisis. And we’ll see where the big money is congregating and what super PACs are most active. If it’s about enriching campaign coffers, I’ll have my Politicus binoculars on it.
When and how are we going to fix this thing? As my Internet friends would say… 404!