Last month marked the two-year anniversary of Citizens United–a landmark in our campaign finance reform that has allowed for substantial financial support by corporations via Super PAC’s. This case faced a backlash from many who can’t afford to give massive ‘contributions’ to lawmakers. The two-year mark of this was celebrated by Rep Keith Ellison’s proposed amendment, ‘Get Corporate Money out of Politics Constitutional Amendment (H.J. RES. 92)’. This Amendment would reverse the Citizens United court decision and pave the way for a future without crony capitalism, deregulation, and the cooperate corruption of our democratic system.
In the heat of the campaign buzz, corporations and corporate CEO’s have given vast amounts to republicans in their primary, specifically Mitt Romney. Republicans have been viewed as the most supportive of deregulation within the financial and energy industries, which comes at no surprise after President Obama called for a reduction in energy subsidies and increased regulations. Romney has naturally become the presidential hopeful and spokesperson for corporate interests. Romney has received over $50 Billion in contributions, of which 71% were from donations in excess of $2,500. Meanwhile President Obama received $72.5 Billion, with 42% being from contributions in excess of $2,500. In the last month the average contribution towards Obama 2012 was $41 and change. Meanwhile, large oil lobbyists like Koch Brothers have pledged $60 Million to fight Obama in the next election. While both have received large endorsements from corporations, it is easy to see which party sits in the boardroom and which sits at city hall. After the financial and energy sectors were given free reign to take all they could get from America through deregulation, of course they would like to keep their status quo. Unlike the majority of Americans, they can afford to influence politics while effectively causing a de-democratizing trend.
We can all remember the deregulation that led to the crash and eventual subsidization of the banking and financial sectors. However, a bigger game changer was the deregulation of the energy sectors, effectively allowing them to dump hazardous materials into waterways, aquifers, wells, streams, rivers, you name it. In 2005 with the thanks of the Bush Administration they have been able to drill in public owned lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management without adhering to environmental regulations, like the Clean Air or Clean Water Acts. In the aftermath of having a virtual buffet of energy processing and a financial free for all, of course these corporate interests lie with Romney and the Republicans who have called for ending the EPA and other regulatory agencies. Where politicians receive money and how is vital to whose interests they will serve while they are in office. While it’s idealist to hope that they will do what is in the best interests of all Americans and take up public service as a noble calling, a realist would tie together corporations and politicians as bedfellows. Whenever legislation comes along that could harm precious corporate interests we are told repeatedly that it is: ‘bad for business,’ ‘would increase taxes,’ and would ‘hurt Main Street.’ When in reality it would call for increased responsibility, limiting their role in policy-making, paying their fair share, and sustain the American democratic model. Meanwhile oil and gas industries saw historic profits in the last three years. Spin-doctors and the like would rather we not open our eyes to the magnitude of campaign finance, and how it has and can cause a de-democratizing trend. If this were happening in any other country, we would view corporate interests as a de-stabilizing, de-democratizing trend which must be replaced with civil society. Instead, we stand back and watch as the political machine turns out politicians who serve their interests, at every day low prices.
In the last years of a Republican controlled and neutered Congress agencies like the EPA and FDA have been demonized, faced diminished funding, and have lost the ability to ensure that our land, skies, food, and waters are healthy. Citizens United means more than just some money in a campaign, it sets the agenda for years to come. Corporate money and influence has no place in a democracy. In fact, increased corporate influence in politics has led to decreased wages, decreased benefits, and a diminishment to our general well-being and way of life. When corporations control politics through money and influence, they set the agenda and pave the way for forms of Fascism, and throw our democratic roots in the fracking fluid.
“We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.” –Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
Author: Martha Molfetas
Martha is a recent graduate from an MSc programme in Comparative Politics-Conflict Studies, at the London School of Economics, and currently a temporary Research Assistant pursuing a more permanent role. She completed a masters dissertation entitled: The Russian Empire Strikes Back! How Russia Controls Hydrocarbon Resources and Energy Access for Europe. As an undergraduate at the University of Central Florida she completed an undergraduate dissertation entitled Resource Conflict in the Caspian Sea Basin. She has also worked for an array of different campaigns, such as: Obama for America and Kendrick Meek for US Senate. Martha has a vested interest in both American politics and international affairs. Martha loves traveling anywhere and everywhere, and just came back from a road trip through the Balkans inclusive of Kosovo, and a trip through Europe and Morocco.