'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Alito, Corporations, and Democrats, etc. 

From the mailbag, here's frequent commenter Bob Lash on strategies the Democrats might adopt towards the Alito nomination:

Just a thought. I'm concerned with the way democrats might be framing the coming debate over Alito( Scalito). It is being presented solely in terms of a retreat on the social progress of the last 70 years. This is wholly proper but not the only strategy they should use. The American people think the social progress of the last seventy years is "safely in the bank" so to speak. They unfortunately think it is a done deal and cannot be unraveled. The few who think it can are the ones who want it unraveled. They naively think the unraveling will stop short of their lives. This response of the Dems to warn of this, although valid may sound stale and overused to many Americans. To them the Dems are always warning of dismantling of the new deal. When the Dems use this tact they must make it as concrete as possible.

Another strategy which is just as valid and may sound novel to Americans is to warn of too much corporate power in the daily lives of Americans as well as the public life. When our country was founded the states had very strict charters as to what corporation could do. If you had a corporation you had to state the purpose of it, exactly how much was to be invested, and exactly how long the corporation would be "allowed to exist".The state had the power to dissolve corporation simply for not acting "in the public good." Corporations were feared both by ordinary people and even some elites. Even Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism, did not like corporations. His theories assumed corporations would not be the preferred capitalist model. States didn't regulate corporations, they simply dissolved them when they did not conform to the public good. Corporations were creations of the state. The so called originalist conservative legal scholars always fail to mention this. Over the last 130 years corporations achieved "Personhood" ( by a complicated back door Court procedure, it was never formalized in a specific supreme court case) and their charters have become meaningless formalities. Slowly they have grown in economic and political power to the point now where they basically run the country and we merely inhabit America as consumers, rather than run it as citizens. Corporations can fire you for writing the wrong kind of letter to the editor, can tell you what personal habits are acceptable (in your own home) and can change the nature of small towns with impunity (al la Walmart). They of course call many of the shots concerning running the country already. The Dems need to couch their objection in the special treatment conservs like Scalito mean to give corporations. Americans hate special treatment. Dems need to frame the debate as opposing a sort of elite affirmative action. I heard Kennedy and he sounded like he was giving Americans the usual litany of liberal complaints against Reaganism, the neo cons and all former attacks on social security. This is all valid but I'm afraid its beginning to sound to average Americans like the boy crying wolf.

Dems also need to attack the legal BS known as originalism head on. Do we go back to slavery and blacks being 3/5 of a person. Do we go back to propertied male suffrage only. Should women again be property of their husbands. And most of all should corporations go back to being constitutional "non persons" and creations of the state, with the state having the power to kill them for not working in the public good. Incidentally the reason the word "privacy" was not in the constitution was in the 18th century the word privacy only refereed to toilets. OK this is long enough forgive my rambling.

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