Money as "free speech": Colbert, Maddow, & me

Tip o’ the nib to Daughter Number Three, whose wrote a brief post yesterday on “Free speech for people” (rather than fake people like, y’know, corporations). She mentioned my post on “Government by psychopathy” — thanks! — but my tip o’ the nib is actually because she reminded me about Stephen Colbert’s commentary about this nonsense of “corporations as persons” and “money as speech” in a segment of “The Word” on The Colbert Report” on September 14, 2009, which aired in the week after oral arguments in Citizens United v. FEC, the case the Supreme Court justices decided two days ago:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Let Freedom Ka-Ching
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy

As Daughter Number Three explained when she originally highlighted this piece,

Key point: The idea that corporations are legally considered people comes from an 1886 case called Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad, when the Chief Justice made [quoting Colbert:] “an off-the-record comment to that effect, the court reporter wrote it down, and it’s been cited ever since. It was a huge win for the railroads, and a brilliant judicial decision by the court reporter, whose previous job experience was being the president of a railroad.”

And since money is the only way a voiceless entity like a corporation can speak, money must equal speech. Following this logic, corporations cannot be deprived of the right to spend money on political campaigns as they see fit. And there goes any semblance of campaign finance reform.

Not to mention any semblance of democracy.

Two nights ago, Rachel Maddow, said a lot of what I’ve been thinking, but a lot more put together than what I had the wherewithal to write myself.  On top of that, she’s been following the health insurance reform business a lot more closely than I have — not being a political pundit or any more than occasional political blogger myself.  Thanks to that she was able to elucidate the linkage between corporate money — in this case that of health insurance companies — & how it has skewed the political process of reform far more lucidly than I could have.  (Maddow’s analysis covers about the first half of this clip; the second half brings in Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts.)

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

As Maddow discusses, Republicans in the health insurance reform debate have cared less about the providing health care to human beings, than they have about keeping the Democrats or President Obama from succeeding at their own political goals, which currently includes health reform.  Okay, that’s been obvious for a long time — Maddow’s just pointing it out again.  My point is this: the Republican Party and the members thereof right now cares more about their own political fortunes than they do about the welfare of the American people.

Here we go with psychopathology again: the Republican Party in this instance is purely self-interested, incapable of concern for others, least of all the millions of Americans who are without access to health care — not when reforming the system such that they do have access would hand success to their political opponents.  The Republican thus finds a ready ally in the already pathological health insurance corporations, whose pure self-interests have to do, as always, with their own bottom lines: they can make more profits for themselves and their shareholders if the health care system continues to be as crapped up & dysfunctional as it is now.

Does this mean that all Republicans are psychopaths?  No.  But it does mean that each & every Republican elected official who places the needs of his or her political party above the interests of living breathing human beings is permitting him/herself to be remade as a psychopath,  just as the five activists Supreme Court justices did in granting the fake persons called corporations rights that should only go to living breathing human beings.

Does this mean that the Democratic Party is all good & virtuous & non-psychopathic?  No.  To my eyes, the Democratic Party, & members thereof, have frequently acted for their own self-interests at the expense of the good of actual live human beings.  Democrats as much as Republicans have frequently sold themselves to act on behalf of corporations & corporate bottom lines.  Some of my progressive friends who are Democrats will no doubt disagree with me; but for me, always, the Democratic Party has simply been the lesser of two evils because is has sold us out just a little less than the Republican Party is.  And so I am far more likely to vote for a Democrat than a Republican (in fact, the only Republican I can actually remember voting for was Arliss Sturgulewski when she ran for governor of Alaska).  But they’re virtually always the lesser of two evils for me.

And I think that neither major party has much of a grasp any more of what democracy actually is anymore.  I search for those who do, & I often find them. They exist, & its because they exist that I haven’t succumbed to the despair that I’m so prone to — but generally they exists in places that conventional wisdom, & conventional politics, has forgotten to look.

More about that later.  Right now I gotta take care of some of the day-to-day stuff of life, like getting some groceries & seeing the kid.

This entry was posted in Polis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.