Friday, January 22, 2010

Kiss Democracy Good-Bye

Make no mistake, we lost our country yesterday. A velvet coup took place silently in the Supreme Court.

Staged by corporate America when nobody was looking, the long and continuing struggle for sovereignty between people and corporations ended--and the people lost. It's now official: corporations will have the same First Amendment rights to free speech as individuals. Political agendas can be overrun by whoever has the most money to spend. There are no limits. In the long-standing contest for control, corporations have at last succeeded in restructuring the rules and institutions of governance to suit their interests.

This deadly change, won by a single vote majority in the conservative Supreme Court, sounds the death knell for democracy. It's the most serious undermining of fair electoral process that could possibly happen. While many of us were busy fretting and licking our wounds over the loss of a crucial Senate seat in Massachusetts, and the concurrent body blow to Democratic health care reform, democracy itself was shot down in the Supreme Court. Most of us didn't even see it coming.

It's all pretty weird and frightening. The swiftboating of Obama is obviously only a small segment in a planned takeover of the whole system. Obama's odd response to the demise of health care reform has been to call for banking reform--which seems curiously out of sync, in terms of choosing your moment. (But I have noticed these curious "off" timings with him before--and I'm not sure what they mean.) Good luck with bank reform, Mr. Prez--sorry, but you're a couple of minutes too late. The train just left the station. Regulation and reform, whether financial or environmental--or anything else--ain't gonna happen now. The chipping away at restraints is complete. Power grabs will be the new jubilee. "Containment liberalism" is toast. Accountability has been declared officially dead. There will be no autopsy.

Abraham Lincoln called it more than a century ago, just before his death:

"Corporations have been enthroned...An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people,,,until wealth is aggregated in a few hands...and the Republic is destroyed."

It's taken more than a century, but our worst-case scenario has just come true.

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