The editorial page of the Arizona Republic is once again schizophrenic.
On Thursday, the Republic feigned outrage at the U.S. Supreme Court and Arizona Supreme Court for the recent campaign finance limits opinions. The editorial board opined After ‘McCutcheon,’ we need more disclosure (weak tea). E.J. Montini wrote Supreme Court: Ben Franklin is out, ‘benjamins’ are in . And even Laurie Roberts wrote A banner day for big money in politics, taking issue with her sister, Arizona Supreme Court Justice Ann Timmer, who authored the state court opinion. That must make for fun times at family dinners!
But these opinions do not reflect the actual views of the Arizona Republic, which is the media arm of the Arizona Republican Party. Today, the actual views of the Arizona Republic were expressed by the Rush Limbaugh of The Republic, Doug MacEachern, and George Will’s mini-me, the patrician prevaricator for the plutocracy, Robert Robb (formerly employed by the “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce).
Doug MacEachern drifts off into yet another senile conspiracy theory about the IRS, and bemoans the unfairness of people being upset about the über-rich wealthy elite corporate plutocrats destroying democracy to replace it with a plutocracy — They are our betters! Shame! Campaign finance reform: Control the OTHER guy.
George Will’s mini-me writes Judges overcomplicate right choices on campaign limits, and can barely contain his dripping disdain for all you “self-proclaimed good government types.” Plutocracy is good for you. So just shut up and accept it.
After reading these corporate plutocrat butt-kissers’ drivel, I though you could use a dose of reality from John Nichols of The Nation. With McCutcheon Ruling, An Activist Court Opts for Full-On Plutocracy:
Any doubts about the determination of an activist United States Supreme Court to rewrite election rules so that the dollar matters more than the vote were removed Wednesday, when McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission was decided in favor of the dollar.
The court that in 2010, with its Citizens United v. FEC decision, cleared the way for corporations to spend as freely as they choose to buy elections has now effectively eliminated the ability of the American people and their elected representatives to establish meaningful limits on direct donations by millionaires and billionaires to campaigns.
The Citizens United ruling, coming after many previous judicial assaults on campaign finance rules and regulations, was a disaster for democracy. But it left in place at least some constraints on the campaign donors. Key among these was a limitation on the ability of a wealthy individual to donate more than a total dollar amount of $123,000 total in each two-year election cycle to political candidates and parties.
With the ruling in the McCutcheon case — where the court was actively encouraged to intervene on behalf of big-money politics by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky — a 5-4 court majority (signing on to various opinions) has ruled that caps on the total amount of money an individual donor can give to political candidates, parties and political action committees are unconstitutional. In so doing, says U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, says the court has further tipped the balance of power toward those who did not need any more influence over the affairs of state.
“It is far too often the case in Washington that powerful corporate interests, the wealthy, and the well-connected get to write the rules,” says Baldwin, “and now the Supreme Court has given them more power to rule the ballot box by creating an uneven playing field where big money matters more than the voice of ordinary citizens.”
The think-tank Demos says the high court’s ruling has “overturned nearly forty years of campaign finance law,” which is certainly true. But the court has done much more than that. By going to the next extreme when it comes to questions of money in politics, the justices who make up the court’s activist majority have opted for full-on plutocracy — and it is unimaginable that this week’s ruling will be the last assault by the justices who make up that majority upon the underpinnings of democracy.
Those justices have made their political intent entirely clear. Chief Justice John Roberts was joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito in a support of an opinion that rejects the notion that limits on the total amount of money that can be given by wealthy donors — such as the billionaire Koch Brothers or casino mogul Sheldon Adelson — are needed to prevent corruption. Justice Clarence Thomas went even further, writing an opinion that all limits on political contributions are unconstitutional. The extreme stance of Thomas — which would overturn the high court’s 1976 Buckley v. Valeo, which upheld basic contribution limits, may signal the next frontier for the court.
But the McCutcheon ruling will be more than sufficient for the big-money interests that worried that their ability to buy elections was hindered by what remained of campaign finance law.
“What world are the five conservative Supreme Court justices living in?” asked US Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. “To equate the ability of billionaires to buy elections with ‘freedom of speech’ is totally absurd. The Supreme Court is paving the way toward an oligarchic form of society in which a handful of billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson will control our political process.”
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“This is truly a decision establishing plutocrat rights. The Supreme Court today holds that the purported right of a few hundred super-rich individuals to spend outrageously large sums on campaign contributions outweighs the national interest in political equality and a government free of corruption,” said Rob Weissman, the president of Public Citizen. “In practical terms, the decision means that one individual can write a single check for $5.9 million to be spent by candidates, political parties and political committees. Even after Citizens United, this case is absolutely stunning. It is sure to go down as one of the worst decisions in the history of American jurisprudence.”
Finally, Ari Berman of The Nation draws a comparison and contrast between last year’s awful Shelby County v. Holder decision, striking down the single most important piece of civil rights legislation in U.S. history, the Voting Rights Act of 165, with McCutcheon. The Supreme Court’s Ideology: More Money, Less Voting:
The Court’s conservative majority believes that the First Amendment gives wealthy donors and powerful corporations the carte blanche right to buy an election but that the Fifteenth Amendment does not give Americans the right to vote free of racial discrimination.
These are not unrelated issues—the same people, like the Koch brothers, who favor unlimited secret money in US elections are the ones funding the effort to make it harder for people to vote. The net effect is an attempt to concentrate the power of the top 1 percent in the political process and to drown out the voices and votes of everyone else.
This is what the state’s largest media consortium actually favors. Oh sure, they’ll deny it and denounce me for being partisan and unfair to point it out. But the only way that the GOP can maintain its hegemony in Arizona in the future is to: (1) overwhelm their opposition with truckloads of cash to drown out their opponents’ message and candidates, and (2) depress voter turnout, if not suppress the voter turnout, of their opponents.
This is exactly what the Arizona GOP has been working to accomplish over the past several years. Its media arm, The Arizona Republic, is going to “catapult the propaganda” as G.W. Bush would say, to sell it to you.