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

Thursday, January 21, 2010

UPDATE: Vote or Die (Part 6) 

After my initial post this morning, hurriedly put up while getting my son ready for day care, I have some more thoughts about the Supreme Court's decision giving corporations free rein in the US political system: First, it appears that people within the Obama administration, especially Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, have no problem with the prospect of a Congress controlled by Republicans after the 2010 election, or, alternatively, a Congress controlled by Republicans in league with conservative Democrats. Through such a Congress, Obama can successfully hunt down the great white whale of US politics, the destruction of Social Security and Medicare as we know it through entitlement reform, all the while positioning himself as someone defending us against the even greater predations of the Republicans. Today's Supreme Court decision creates an opportunity to get more candidates elected who will implement an accelerated, more merciless evisceration of social welfare policies adopted between the 1930s and the 1970s.

Second, the only institutions capable of raising large sums of money to finance campaigns to compete with corporate funded candidates are labor unions. Admittedly, this has always been true, but now, the proportion of individual donations in comparison to labor contributions and corporate contributions will be graphed with individual donations near the bottom, labor union ones somewhere between the bottom and the middle and corporate ones in excess of both. As a result, corporations will not only be dominant, but the decisive voice in relation to attempts to implement progressive policies to constrain them will rest with the unions. Upset that Andy Stern of SEIU and Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO abandoned single payer and the public option during drafting of health care reform legislation? Dissatisfied that neither of them are willing to challenge US militarism and demand that the government redirect Pentagon expenditures towards the fulfillment of domestic needs? Better learn to love it, because the Supreme Court has made them the godfathers of US progressivism, such as it is.

Lastly, we can also reasonably conclude that the many of the members of the US Senate, regardless of party, are pleased with the decision, because they confirmed Bush appointees Roberts and Alito, two justices whose votes were necessary for the Court's 5-4 decision, in the face of siginificant opposition. Some of this opposition emphasized their judicial records in support of corporations and more repressive measures of social control. But a majority of the Senate, including quite a number of Democrats, had no problem with it, and why should they? Now, they can defend their incumbency against potential threats with even larger sums of corporate largesse.

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