Monday, January 25, 2010

Jan. 25: Elections Go To Those Who Own One

By Sylvia Gurinsky

In the Supreme Court's history, not many rulings are more damaging than their decision about campaign finance last week. Dred Scott, which upheld slavery, is certainly one. Bush v. Gore might be another.

The same 5-4 vote that took place in Bush v. Gore took place last week in Citizens United v. FEC. The majority suggested that, on the basis of the First Amendment, corporations' campaign contributions cannot be limited. If candidates were already accused of buying elections, think what will happen now.

A lot of people have suggested that public financing for candidates would be a solution. Don't look for it from Congress, which is in the pocket of corporations and will be even if the party in control shifts in November.

Don't look for guts from Congress in trying to pass campaign finance reform, either. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has carried the standard on this issue for two decades, is basically waving the white flag.

It will take a major, Watergate-style election crisis to get the pendulum to swing again, just as it took the Civil War to get President Abraham Lincoln to abolish slavery. Until then, sadly, elections will go to the highest bidder.

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