Now that money is free speech and corporations are people, foreign owners of multinational corporations can have a louder voice in American elections than the American people.
If you think the historic Republican gains in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 were the result of vast changes in voter preferences, think again. It was all about sleazy corporate politics.
In 2008, prior to the Citizens United decision, PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry trade association that includes foreign-owned corporations, spent $200,000 on political campaigning.
During the 2010 elections, it spent $9.5 million. The corporate-sponsored U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest political spender and lobby in America, poured an estimated $75 million into the 2010 elections, mostly to Republicans, with almost half of the money coming from previously illegal corporate donations.
One third of all ads for Republican candidates were funded by sources outside the party.
The American Petroleum Institute is another nonprofit organization. The board of directors is made up of mostly oil company executives, including a Saudi citizen who is also a registered lobbyist for the Saudi Arabian government. During the 2010 midterm elections, API funneled tens of millions (we will never know exactly how much) into smear campaigns directed at Democrats who voiced concerns about the environment. In return, 86 percent of newly elected Republicans signed an oil industry-backed pledge to oppose all regulations related to climate change. Isn’t that bribery? Currently 54 percent of Romney ads are funded by outside sources, but only nine percent of Obama’s ads are, an obvious reflection on which candidate the billionaires prefer.
Contrast that with the pre-Citizens United presidential election of 2008 in which only four percent of McCain ads and two percent of Obama ads were funded by non-official campaign organizations.
It is those outside organizations like API that most often produce those nasty and many times false and bordering on slanderous TV ads and mailers that people hate so much. Seventy-two percent of Romney ads have been negative versus 41 percent for Obama.
Monsanto alone has contributed more than $7 million to the “No on Prop 37” campaign. How many Americans even have that much money, not to mention that much money to blow on a political contribution?
Throw in Dow Chemical, Dupont and Bayer Crop Sciences and the total reaches $18 million from just four corporations. At least 10 more corporations have tossed in a million or more. This is just the official corporate money reported to the state. We have no way of knowing how much money is being spent by trade associations or issue groups on behalf of corporations. In typical conservative Orwellian fashion, the No on 37 PAC calls itself the Coalition Against Deceptive Labeling when in fact it is trying to deceive the public by withholding crucial information from food labels.
The corporate food industry is afraid we won’t buy its adulterated products, so its is using its vast wealth to try to take away our freedom of choice.
And this is just one ballot measure in one state.
Our electoral system has been totally corrupted. Corporations are a legal tool created to avoid personal responsibility and liability. It is insane to grant an entity that only exists on paper the same rights as a human being. Very few human beings have that much money. Corporations don’t laugh and they don’t love.
They don’t get hungry and they don’t have to tell their family they lost their job.
Corporations don’t have to breathe the foul air they create or drink the water they pollute. Their sole purpose is to maximize profits for their owners at the expense of all else, including people’s lives. In short, they have no conscience, and they have no soul.
That we have a Supreme Court majority that consistently rules in favor of a corporation’s rights over those of the American people is no accident. Prior to Citizens United, seven of the last 10 terms in the White House have gone to pro-corporate billionaire backed Republican presidents who appointed the current Supreme Court majority.
Two more justices will retire soon. What kind of justices do you want on the bench? The American Revolution was about giving a voice to the people in the affairs of their government. The Republican Party has privatized that voice and sold it to the highest bidder.
Vote no on billionaires. Vote no on Republicans. They just can’t be trusted to do what’s best for the rest of America.
Joe Keeble lives in Nevada City.
Corporations don’t have to breathe the foul air they create or drink the water they pollute.