“Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties, does not give rise to such quid pro quo corruption. Nor does the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner ‘influence over or access to’ elected officials or political parties.”
— Chief Justice John Roberts in the Supreme Court’s official ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC, which strikes down overall limits on individual campaign contributions
Go back and read that quote a couple of times and really let it sink in. Yes, the naïveté on display — either from Roberts himself or in what he expects from us, the docile masses — truly is that staggering.
What he’s saying here is that a giant barrel of money given to a candidate doesn’t, in and of itself, represent “buying” that candidate — that unless it’s somehow explicitly stated that a campaign donation comes with expectations from the donor, it’s not a form of corruption. This of course completely ignores the reality that a plutocrat drowning his favorite candidates in cash to get them elected makes it entirely unnecessary to have to enter into a verbal or written agreement with those candidates in exchange for all that largesse. The quid pro quo is implied — and that’s what makes the whole deal so fucking insidious.
What the Supreme Court did today further eroded our nation’s practically non-existence campaign finance laws, making it even easier for the super-wealthy to purchase political and legislative authority the same way they’d purchase a new mansion or another yacht. The court has decided that money is a form of speech, that it truly does “talk,” and that it should be afforded all the Constitutional protection you or I do in voicing our (increasingly worthless) opinions on who should lead our country and ostensibly represent us. We still have a say, but with McCutcheon and Citizens United before that, those with outrageous amounts of money now have a much larger say, and if you think those people will be funneling funds toward candidates who want to work for us, the tragic assholes in Steerage Class, you’re out of your mind.
If there was any kind of balance between the wealthy and the poor in this country, or even a robust and expansive middle-class to speak of anymore, today’s sharply divided partisan decision by the high court would still be a devastating blow to a good 97% of America. Considering the state we’re already in when it comes to income and wealth inequality, though, the blow is just about fatal. When money can buy elections with legal sanction from the highest court in the land, nobody’s going to be looking out for you and me because our wants and needs simply don’t fucking matter and we don’t have the cash to pay to get them anyway.
If America wasn’t officially a plutocracy before, it damn sure is now.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.