It may very well wind up being the worse decision since Plessy versus Ferguson.
The Supreme Court handed down that infamous ruling back in 1896, when it opined there was nothing wrong with segregated bathrooms, train cars, water fountains and schools – as long those colored bathrooms, train cars, water fountains, and schools were equal to those used by white people.
Fast forward to 2010, with the Supremes ruling, in Citizen’s United versus Federal Elections Commission , that corporations are equal to individuals when it comes to expressing free speech in political campaigns.
And this is especially scary for black people and other groups who have fought to gain rights over the years – because the corporate moguls and political action committees that can now pour unrestricted amounts into political campaigns care little about people’s rights and more about maintaining their power and privilege.
Except now, the Supremes have abetted them in doing that – because they can now spend more money on propaganda to exploit the ignorance of voters.
Sadly, many of these voters are more worried about silliness like socialism and threatened by the United States becoming blacker and browner than they are at the prospect of corporations buying politicians who could turn it into a more separate and unequal country; into a place where civil rights, worker’s rights and environmental rights are all wrong.
Last week, for example, Wisconsin’s GOP Gov. Scott Walker survived a recall attempt largely because 13 corporate billionaires from outside the state helped him to outspend his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by an 8 to 1margin.
And just who were some of these moguls?
According to Forbes magazine, one of them was Joe Ricketts, the Chicago Cubs owner who was linked to, and who later backed off on, a racist smear campaign against President Obama. He gave Walker $100,000.
Another was Newt Gingrich-admirer and Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson; he gave $250,000. Yet another was Wal-Mart heiress Christy Walton, whose big box stores offer low prices and its workers low wages. She gave $50,000.
It’s obvious they all have an interest in seeing unions smashed. If workers have rights, that means they can’t get richer.
Oh, and let’s not forget Americans for Prosperity, the non-profit political organization founded by the ultra-conservative, Obama-hating Koch Brothers; it spent $3 million in ads alone ahead of the recall campaign.
Through their money and power they were able to persuade people in Wisconsin to vote against their own interests.
More of that is coming.
Open Secrets.org, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics which tracks corporate and political action committee spending, recently listed Honeywell International as the top political action committee. It raised $1.9 million – with 63 percent of that going to Republican candidates.
Among other things, Honeywell manufactures chemicals and aerospace parts. It also builds nuclear bombs and cluster bombs, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has linked it to a number of Superfund toxic cleanup sites.
And we all know that many times, toxic waste winds up in black communities.
In fairness, Obama also is receiving money from PACS – though at this moment not as much as Mitt Romney. I mean, what choice did he have? Also, in spite of the corporate spending, the truth is that it’s still up to voters to educate themselves about the candidates.
Yet by creating a situation that allows corporations and billionaires to spend unlimited amounts on electioneering, the Supreme Court has given them a lopsided advantage in providing that “education.” That means they can lie; that they say or hint that Obama is a Muslim and wasn’t born in the United States.
That means they can tell people, over and over again, that it’s day when it’s night.
So the Citizens United decision wasn’t an exercise in providing equality, but one in perpetuating inequality. Except now, the battle isn’t about whether black people will have access to schools or facilities, but whether everyone will be able to share in the prosperity of the country when those who are buying the democracy have no interest in sharing.
Especially not with us.