Tried to do some more research on that latest and most controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturns old law and gives corporations (and unions) nearly unlimited power to make big money donations to meddle in the political process. One problem in my research is a lack of time and a current bout of exhaustion. However, thanks to Wikipedia, I did get a chance to give the 5-4 Citizens United v Federal Election Commission decision a quick read.
I had mentioned in my earlier post that corporations (artificial people under the law) had already been given the rights of real people in previous legal rulings, using the 14th Amendment in part, an amendment most people would have thought was aimed at giving the same protection under the law to former slaves after the Civil War as other citizens enjoyed. In my ever-so-quick read of the opinion and even dissenting opinion I did not catch language about the 14th Amendment directly but they did mention that the courts have ruled that corporations have First Amendment free speech rights and other rights just as real people do. There is reference to earlier court cases on point and I suppose some or all of them may address the 14th Amendment issue, and by the way, that issue is addressed by Wikipedia if you look up “corporations and the 14th Amendment”.
Even though most legal and political observers consider this a landmark decision, I blogged earlier that I did not think it really changed the playing field since big money always finds its way into campaigns and that you can’t separate money from politics. I still feel that way.
As I also alluded to in my earlier post, I think the problem is the intelligence and critical thinking power of the electorate. Presuming as an individual you have a mind of your own and are capable of keeping up on the issues separate from propaganda, you still have no control over the other guy who may be ignorant or lazy or both but who is still able to vote, and worse yet does.
And in my mind, here is the biggest problem of all:
It is becoming more difficult to sort out fact and opinion and commentary in the news, particularly on television (and the internet) where everything is mixed together. And it is even more difficult when you have a corporation that runs a far right-wing cheering section masquerading as a news network, such as FOX.
But FOX has been so financially successful that I think even CNN has caught the bug. Now I know that CNN tends to see the liberal side in a somewhat more favorable light than FOX, but the other morning the host was touting the far left line, quoting his own father as saying there are only two types of people in this world: “the rich and the rest of us”. And I think he was referring to the afore mentioned court decision. His presentation was a mixture of news and commentary with no clear differentiation.
So, if this is how it is to be, it becomes difficult for anyone to make a critical analysis of the issues, if opinion, in which the deck is stacked on one side of an issue, is presented as a news report.
And if a whole news network can be hijacked by one part of the political spectrum, democracy, which depends upon the free flow of accurate information, is in danger.
Nonetheless we can hardly have government dictating the manner in which information is disseminated or presented.
And while this may or may not be the reasoning the conservative majority ruled the way they did, I find myself almost concurring with them.
The whole thing started when opponents of Hillary Clinton wanted to widely distribute an ugly hit piece, thinly disguised as a legitimate documentary, just before election time.
Opponents of corporate meddling in elections charge that the large corporations have the financial ability to unduly influence elections.
While I agree, I am not sure what can be done since big money will always find its way in. And there is merit to the argument of the majority that we don’t want the government to inhibit political speech.
The only weapon we have to combat the corruption of our politics is the free flow of unbiased information. If as consumers we responded better towards balanced reporting, the marketplace might well respond. But for some reason much of the public seems to respond better to what it wants to hear.
Many ordinary citizens probably don’t realize the value of good information.
But people who need good information to make business decisions or decisions in their professional lives/and or work do. That is why they tend to subscribe to or otherwise obtain quality publications where the aim is to impart valuable information, not just point of view.
I’m still going to try to research this case further.