Monday, January 25, 2010

Money Gets a New Voice

Anyone living in New York City should be quite aware of the power of money in politics. After all, here we are living under a third Bloomberg mayoral term, bought and paid for much as the first two were. Despite the fact that one could say this third term is illegal, it appeared that no one had the money to mount a challenge to Mayor Bloomberg. Whoever said that justice is free?

You see, it's not about someone paying Bloomberg to vote for a particular company or law; it is Bloomberg himself having access to enough money to make sure no one could wrest the office away from him. And then once in office, he continues his own agenda, which so far has featured overbuilding the island of Manhattan to such an extend we can only hope it doesn't sink into the sea. Failing that, however, he is still lining his pockets with all these deals he brokers.

When it comes to using money in politics, I don't think companies seek so much to influence a vote on a particular bill (at least usually not, except perhaps in cases such as healthcare reform), as to support a candidate whose viewpoint matches their own. That's why we see even moderate Republicans such as Crist in Florida being challenged by more conservative organizations supporting a challenger to him. Having the money to buy up ad time against the competition as well as flood the market with ads pushing a particular candidate usually results in a great many people being brainwashed about a candidate much as they are about paper towels or soap detergent. These persuaders are no longer so hidden.

The Supreme Court even calling this case a First Amendment case is disturbing, as I think that is really stinking thinking. Anyone is free to say whatever they want about anyone, if it is not defamation. And we don't need a ruling from the Supreme Court for any company to voice its opinion. But once more, the point here was not really about SPEECH but MONEY. It's not what a company says, but the money it has available to spend on producing infomercials, films, expensive, sophisticated ads, etc. to sway the public in its vote. I don't believe this is a free speech issue at all.

Also interesting is that this conservative court is the most activist court we've seen in quite a while as it happily overturns precedents in its mission to bring its conservative agenda to life. And the above decision, wrongly presented as a First Amendment issue overturned a precedent of almost 100 years!

There is no question but that Roberts seems on a hellbent mission to take the country in the direction of his conservative vision, and he is supported by his four conservative cohorts. The opportunity may present itself, or if it doesn't, they can create the opportunity, to roll time back, way back on other issues. Do not be surprised at what other decisions may be made that roll back the country to earlier less egalitarian times. Have we already forgotten the Court's take on Lily Ledbetter?

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