January 23, 2010
|It’s official : as of Thursday, January 21st 2010, US democracy as we all knew it has ceased to exist. In a highly controversial ruling, the US Supreme Court has done away with the ban on financial contributions by corporations in candidate elections. Thus, the American political system, already antiquated, will drift further away from those of its European counterparts. In contrast, most European countries grant equal media access to minority party candidates and severely limit donations to political parties.
The decision, taken with 5 votes to 4, is seen to favour the Republicans, who were battered in the last presidential elections. It also puts to rest the bipartisan McCain-Feingold law of 2002 which tried to limit the influence of big money in federal campaigns. Considered by Russ Feingold “a terrible mistake“, the Court’s decision “has given corporate money a breathtaking new role in federal campaigns”. (source:IHT) Speaking on CBS on Sunday, John McCain has said that the movement he led to reform how campaigns are financed is now dead.
Mindful not to yield too much power to American corporations, well-known for their predatory behaviour, US lawmakers had adopted the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 and in 1907 Congress voted the Tillman Act, prohibiting corporations from financing political campaigns. If they wanted things to move their way in Washington, corporate chieftains had to pay for the services of lobbyists. Not anymore : the Supreme Court’s decision paves the way for them to “buy” the services of senators and congressmen outright.
The Supreme Court’s decision seems to lend weight to Leo Strauss’ neo-conservative theories according to which ultimate power in the USA rests with a “king”, a non-elected official who can overturn election results and demote presidents. These constitutional powers in the US are awarded to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Leo Strauss believed that modernity is just a myth perpetrated by gullible intellectuals and that democracy does not really exist. He contended that even countries like the United States have the equivalent of a medieval ruling class, made up of barons and princelings of American industry.
As what goes around comes around, the United States becomes in effect the mother of all banana republics – a land where corporations can look forward to dictating their will to political institutions too weak to resist their financial backers.