[T]he U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision . . . quashes participatory democracy by allowing corporate interests to use front groups to pour tens of millions of dollars into the electoral process. How many small contributors would it take to equal what Exxon Mobil alone could contribute? How can we prevent foreign interests from using Citizens United to influence the outcome of elections?
Corporatists already manipulate the legislative process through their massive lobbying efforts in Washington. Citizens United is just another nail in the coffin of democracy.
I left these comments:
Citizens United struck down a law that violated the freedom of any advocacy group organized as a corporation from exercising free speech and press rights. In the CU case, the campaign finance law at issue forbade a nonprofit group from distributing a film critical of a candidate in 2008. Chillingly, the law also allowed vast government censorship over all forms of expression including books, newspaper ads, radio, the internet, etc. Fortunately, the Supreme Court struct down this un-American law.
America is a constitutionally limited representative republic based on the recognition of inalienable individual rights. In a representative republic, individuals, acting alone or in voluntary groups such as corporations, labor unions, or nonprofits, have a right to attempt to "manipulate" or influence--to participate in--the legislative process. That's the whole point of a government of, for, and by the people. The "rights" of any group derive directly from the rights of the individuals that make it up. "Corporate interests" are individuals like everyone else. A corporation is a voluntary association of individuals with the right to spend their money however they please to advocate their ideas, as recognized by the free speech and press clause of the First Amendment. So are labor unions (to the extent they are voluntary). Citizens United struck a strong blow for those individual rights. Kudos to the US Supreme Court!
As to lobbying, the First Amendment also guarantees free assemblies of individuals to petition the government. Lobbies are just that. Why do "corporatists" lobby Washington? Because Washington has massive control over the economy, and business is the primary target of this government assault. But lobbyists come in all stripes--labor unions, environmentalists, consumer "protection" groups, and a whole host of other special interests.
Lobbyists perform one of two basic functions; seek political favors at other economic groups expense, or seek to protect their clients against becoming a victim group. Many lobbyists perform both functions. It's a smelly process, but Gary Tanucci attacks the symptom rather than the disease, reversing cause and effect. The cause is not the lobbyists. The cause is government's control over the economy, and its power to dish out economic favors. Lobbying grows in response to growing government power, not the other way around. The solution is to roll back the power of the government, not the First Amendment.
By attacking the symptom, Tanucci assaults an indespensible bulwark against tyranny. His solution to all of this is effectively to trample the First Amendment, insulate the politicians from the people, and create a democratic dictatorship. We need to nail the democracy coffin shut, and bury it. Democracy is a manifestation of totalitarianism; a system of rotating elected dictators but no individual liberty.
In Defense of Special Interests--and the Constitution
Citizens United and the Battle for Free Speech in America by Steve Simpson
Obama Urges Amendment to Overturn the First Amendment