Yes, the president. Yes, your representatives. But thanks to the Supreme Court's Monday ruling, the infection goes deep into the nation's bloodstream.
Has it dawned yet on Americans out here, far from DC, that a PAC in Washington can buy us a new school board? The judges in our local courts? The sheriff? Our state legislature?
Let's start with Montana, the state that just watched as its Supreme Court was nullified and the state's campaign-finance law thrown out.
On two different occasions — once in 1998 and again in 2004 — Montana's voters have voted in referenda to ban the gold mining process called cyanide leaching in that state. The technique uses a cyanide solution to free the gold from the "host" rocks in which it is found. The technique is so toxic in its effects that Montana already had been stuck with millions of dollars in clean-up costs before the two referenda. It is so toxic that it also lost a referendum in Turkey, which is not as thoroughgoing a democracy as Montana. (At various times, it's been banned in three states and in eight other countries.) Last year, the Montana legislature stuck its finger in the eyes of the people who'd voted in both those referenda and tried to introduce cyanide-leach mining by statute, but Governor Brian Schweitzer vetoed the bill.
"I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one in Montana who has contemplated having a long cool drink of cold, pure water," Schweitzer said. "Over the course of the past few years, those same voters they want to stop from voting, they got together not just once, they got together twice, and they said, ‘we don't want poison in our water.'"
Now, imagine a third referendum on allowing cyanide-leach mining to proceed, this one conducted in the deregulated universe of Citizens United, and in a Montana deprived by the Supreme Court of the campaign-finance regulations that had stood there for a century — or, if you will, since the last time a bunch of mineral extraction gozillionnaires tried to buy the state wholesale. Do you like the chances of that referendum failing again?
I don't either. ...Charles Pierce, at Esquire
Unlimited corporate spending in elections all the way down to the sheriff's office will remain law of the land for the foreseeable future. The real significance of ATP v. Bullock, explained Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, is that it demonstrates just what an uphill climb it will be for anyone looking to roll back the consequences of Citizens United through legal means. “I think this is the last we’re going to hear of this specific legal issue for years to come,” Ryan said. “It shows that it may require change in composition of the Supreme Court before this issue of money in elections can be revisited.” ...The New Republic
“As corrosive as the experience has been so far in the presidential election, the potential impact will be worse at the local level where corporate money is even more powerful,” said William Galvin, secretary of the Commonwealth, citing the potential for casinos, developers, and banks to influence elections. “This is just a troubling decision and we’re going to see that as time goes on.” ...Boston Globe
"Citizens and the nation are not going to accept the Supreme Court-imposed campaign finance system that allows our government to be auctioned off to billionaires, millionaires, corporate funders and other special interests using political money to buy influence and results," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21. "A major national campaign finance reform movement will begin immediately after the 2012 elections." ...LATimes