It’s no surprise: 80 percent of Americans oppose the U.S. Supreme Court’s notorious Citizens United ruling that allows corporations to spend unlimited sums to influence election outcomes. Sixty-five percent are “strongly opposed.” That’s from a Washington Post poll published this morning.
The dislike is bipartisan. It’s about 8 out of 10 among both Republicans and Democrats. The political unrest we see across the spectrum comes from Americans’ feeling of powerlessness. Insurance corporations have delayed health care reform. Wall Street’s unfettered greed wrecked the economy. The federal stimulus is working — millions of new jobs created — but economic fears persist.
The Supreme Court stepped right in this mess and made individual Americans even less powerful. And citizens know it. It is outrageous that the Court would give corporations unprecedented political power over our lives. It is outrageous that the Court considers corporations people. It is outrageous that the Court rules money is equal to speech, meaning those with more money have more speech.
There are several initiatives aimed at correcting the Court’s terrible error and pointing the nation back toward something like a democracy. Plutocracy is not what the Founder intended, though it is clearly what today’s U.S. Supreme Court intended.
“If there’s one thing that Americans from the left, right and center can all agree on, it’s that they don’t want more special interests in our politics,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is spearheading the legislative effort, said in a statement after the poll was released Wednesday.
The Post details some of the efforts:
Under legislation being drafted by Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), companies with foreign ownership or federal contracting ties would be limited in their ability to spend corporate money on elections.
The lawmakers also want to require companies to inform shareholders about political spending; to mandate special “political activities” accounts for corporations, unions and advocacy groups; and to require that corporate executives appear in political advertising funded by their companies.
Other likely proposals include banning participation in U.S. elections by bank bailout recipients.
Congressional Republicans, deaf to both the anti-democratic consequences of the ruling and the strong public sentiment against it, have praised the Court, calling the decision a victory for free speech. As the November election grows closer, I’m betting they change their tune.