2010-02-12 / Editorial/Opinion

We, The Corporations And The Unions

For more than 40 years, there has been a fundamental debate raging in this nation about how best to fund political campaigns. On one side, there are the reformers who want to limit the influence of wealthy corporations and labor unions by emphasizing that election campaigns should be a level playing field. If American democracy is based on the theory of one man, one vote, then those who can spend enormous amounts of money to dominate and corrupt a campaign must be held in check. On the other hand, conservatives and libertarians argue that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that everybody – from the individual to the corporation to the labor union – has the right to free speech and to spend whatever he or she pleases on a political campaign. On January 21, the Supreme Court sided with those who believe that free speech demands no limitation on political spending, either by individuals or organizations such as corporations or labor unions. The 5-4 ruling by the court touched off dire predictions that campaigns for Congress and the presidency would soon be flooded with corporate dollars and influence. We believe that those finance-reform advocates are right. One only has to look at our recent mayoral campaign to see how spending an obscene amount of money can impact the outcome. We fear that a lack of any control on campaign spending will allow those big-money organizations to influence both political campaigns and the way our legislators look at issues. If, for example, banks can pour millions of dollars into one legislator’s campaign chest, then it can influence how that legislator votes on issues relating to banks. It is only human nature that money corrupts, and now that the Supreme Court has allowed unlimited money into the political process, we are probably going to see a lot more corruption. Those who are angered and afraid because of the Supreme Court decision have a right to be. We might soon no longer be “We, the people,” but “We, the corporations and labor unions” instead.

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