Democracy Died First in Wisconsin – Long Live the Oligarchs
The Wisconsin recall election was the first major test of the new era in American politics. That new era began in January of 2010 when the US Supreme Court ruled in “Citizens United v. FEC” that the political voice of We The People was no longer as important as the voices of billionaires and transnational corporations.
Now we know the result, and it bodes ill for both 2012 and for the tattered future of small-d democracy in our republic. A few of America’s most notorious oligarchs – including the Koch and the DeVos (Amway fortune) billionaires – as well as untraceable millions from donors who could as easily be Chinese government-run corporations as giant “American” companies who do most of their business and keep most of their profits outside the US – apparently played big in this election.
I say “apparently” because the Supreme Court has ruled that we no longer have the right to know who is really funding our election commercials, or even our candidates themselves. Thanks to an irrational and likely illegal Supreme Court ruling, we have moved into an era of oligarch-run politics. As much as $40 million of our oligarch’s money was spent in Wisconsin in a handful of local races – a testing laboratory for strategies that will now be used against Democrats nationwide in 2012.
And so now we enter the battle of the oligarchs over the next fifteen or so months. As the old saying goes, when the elephants fight, the mice get trampled. In this case, the mice aren’t just the voters. It’s democracy itself. America is now – demonstrably, as proven by Wisconsin – just a few years away from the possibility of a totally corrupted, totally billionaire- and corporate-controlled political system. Political scientists call it oligarchy.
The Citizens United election experiment is over, and the oligarchs won. Long live the oligarchy.
Just because we are told that a corporation is "a person," does not make it real. It is a law,now; not a fact. Just because certain people can manipulate laws to create large wealthy multinational corporations and a very wealthy few, does not mean they are the rightful "owners" of all capital.
I'm tracking right with Thom...my piece today is "Trying to Slay the Citizens United Dragon" at www.wisdomvoices.com. Or also picked up by OpEdNews at www.opednews.com.
It was a sad night indeed last night.
WAIT A MINUTE!
I want to see what Brad Friedman (http://www.bradblog.com/) finds out about Wisconsin's voting systems. I saw a LOT of computers involved in the film clips of the election. After the recent state supreme court fraud election, shouldn't we all be a bit leery of ANY results that have Rove involved?
Our election systems are as corrupt as the rest of our political system and we better stop ignoring this critical aspect of our democracy!
Citizens United merely affirmed the first amendment. The Supreme Court ruled that “Congress shall make no law” means exactly what it says. It doesn’t matter if you speak anonymously, it doesn’t matter if you choose to speak as a member of a neighborhood association, as a member of the ASPCA or as a shareholder in a corporation. Congress shall make no law interfering with the right to speak. The importance of the right to speak anonymously cannot be overstated. The Federalist Papers were authored anonymously for the same reason people need this right today. Just look at the collectivists ferocious attacks on Joe the Plumber - would anybody want to go thru that? Would he have spoken out if he'd known ahead of time what he was going to be subjected to?
The fact that corporations are considered to be artificial persons wasn’t even a consideration in the decision.
This paranoia about a particular form of business organization is at least amusing, unlike almost everything the collectivists are doing.
The victory for responsible government in Wisconsin is because an lot of Tea Partiers are reading and studying the classics of liberty, from the Road to Serfdom to Atlas Shrugged. These results give me some hope that I may soon be able to retire my sig:
Atlas Shrugged was supposed to be a warning, NOT a newspaper!
I forgot where I've heard this before, but... despair is not an option.
Sometimes wisdom comes to monkeys but rarely does wisdom come to monkeys.
We shouldn't be apathetic. I hate to use an old crusty cliche' but it's always darkest before the dawn!
I reiterate my bumper sticker:
A corporation is a person in the same sense that a flamethrower is a firefly.
We'd probably need larger bumpers for this.
The firehose of corporate cash has been turned on the uprising of the people in Wisconsin. The crowd was beaten back, but just barely. John Nichols (on Democracy Now!) and Ben Manski (on TH) point out the silver lining here. In six Republican districts two Senate seats were taken. Alberta Darling lost everywhere in her district except in the now notorious Waukesha county which reported last and swung the entire district to Darling. Combined with the fact that Dale Schultz is still in the Senate, the Fitzwalkerstan regime may have actually lost their grip on the WI Senate (as long as the Democratic Senators hold their seats next week).
The basic point here remains as Thom stated in the OP: With the unknown total upwards of $30 million dollars on 6 state senate seats the rate of spending is up about 100 fold in Wisconsin. A tiny fraction of transnational corporate profits can deluge our political system in one-sided attack ads. Look for a nationwide big money deluge in the continuing campaign for corporatism. Corporatism currently creates government policy to produce guaranteed corporate profits through the Federal Reserve, bank bailouts (QEIII), permanent war, for-profit health care and continuing privatization of the prisons, schools, roads, public lands and the rest of the commons.
@Martin Sandberg: I really don't care what the sophistry of the majority opinion in Citizen's United was. The fact remains that false idea of corporate personhood has repeatedly been the justification for the SCOTUS striking down restrictions on corporate involvement in politics. The dissenting opinion has the advantage of being correct: it points directly to this result where massive amounts of money influence politics in a way that is not available to >95% of the people. Democracy can not thrive in this environment and is not likely to survive long with a government that only represents the rich and powerful. In debate after debate, issue after issue, crisis after crisis, real, possible and effective solutions preferred by the majority of the people are not discussed by rich politicians and the corporate media.
Thanks for getting on and staying on the central issue of Restoring Democracy Thom. Thank you as well for the repeated mention of MoveToAmend.org Although Lincoln's fears are coming to pass, it is not too late to Heed Lincoln's Warning.
So Republicans lose 2 seats that they won in the last election and this this is supposed to be a defeat for Liberal democracy? Every form of government in history has done nothing but concentrate wealth. Fighting this will never be easy. We will never be as organized or as well funded as them.
And for the Ayn Randers...There is another name for their form of "Liberty".... Its called Fasicsm. Let me know when your Objectivst ethics compel you to return stolen land from the Native Americans or compensate the decedents of enslaved Africans for building this country.
40 Million spent and they lost 2 of 6 in a local election.
We have the power!!!! let's target their companies. Getting 10 to 12 percent of liberals and progressives to cooperate should be easy.....and will be noticed.
there is a major flaw in your premise...
the "super-rich" have paid for laws that move money from the people to their pockets (ie free trade, tax breaks to move jobs from this country, etc) that is theft and it is the right of the victims to get their money back
@LeMoyne " I really don't care what the sophistry of the majority opinion in Citizen's United was. The fact remains that false idea of corporate personhood has repeatedly been the justification for the SCOTUS striking down restrictions on corporate involvement in politics."
Perhaps the constituition needs to be amended, but the language in the 1st amendment is the strongest of all of the amendments. Congress is flatly prohibited from having any say at all regarding the issue of free speech. It is arguable that the existence of the FEC itself is in violation of the 1st amendment. That's why the Supreme Court didn't address the myth of corporate "personhood", it wasn't sophistry, the issue was completely irrelevant.
@tim-mccoy "And for the Ayn Randers...There is another name for their form of "Liberty".... Its called Fasicsm. "
We stand for freedom - freedom of speech, however you want to exercise it. Freedom to succeed to the limit of your ability. Freedom to create, design and build what we and our customers want. Your confusion about where to place Objectivists and Fascists is understandable because there is no place on the outdated 1 dimensional spectrum for those of us who want government out of our bedrooms and out of our wallets. Jerry Pournelle is widely credited with inventing a much better way of mapping out political positions: http://www.baen.com/chapters/axes.htm.
Get the commercials synchronized! Twice today the commercial interrupted your interview. Not cool.
I think it is possible they decided to add votes at intervals -- not at the end -- but I am a bit paranoid due to previous elections. Until we have actual verification, I don't think I will totally trust any election counts again.
Democracy died? Drama. I'm so tired of this defeatist perspective. I am totally with you in terms of the seriousness and the urgency, but ... Democracy died? How about pushing a perspective like your first guest has -- that Democracy achieved winning two Republican seats in heavily Republican territory, against all odds? This is a beginning. I really, really REALLY don't understand why progressives continue to adopt this fatalistic victim role. It's a heavily divided country, we're up against a lot, and we should be using our victories to foment more cohesiveness in our ranks, and to pump up the volume on how well we can do when we fight. Yeah, things are screwed right now but please explain to me how the idea that "Democracy Died" will inspire us? The best thing you can do right now is inspire us to keep doing better, not deflate us with this kind of rhetoric.
Say what? There's no mystical super wealthy? Uh... they exist, just like the upper class, middle-class and poor people.
The same argument works against you. "but that they are actually holding it from the people" The bulk of the money that the wealthy receive doesn't go back into the economy as consumer spending, it goes in as speculation- which drives up commodities, oil, and drives bigger bubbles because there is less ROI in an recessed economy and hence the need for more speculation to get higher returns.
They aren't confiscating anything- they are using public funds to fund the public. It's how a modern society works. Everyone in this country except the poor (below 16k) and the super rich (100+ million) pay 16.6% effective federal tax rates. The middle class pays 22.5% because of the tax code.
That's called changing the laws to suit yourself - that's unpatriotic.
Thom it sounds like you're throwing your hands in the air and giving up.
You are the Only one on the air that I know of that is telling the people both the Truth about the problem and the Truth about our path to a solution. That path runs through the local Democratic Precinct Committees.
Thom Why was there no Democratic Party Officials/Lawyers in the Wakasha County Clerks Office and taking pics and video of their every move?
Another question; Where is George Sorros? Where are the Rich Hollywood Elite we hear so much about? Why are they suposedly sending Millions to President Obama so if he wins he can be a Lame Duck President who has to contend with Extortionist Filibusters in the Senate and House?
Please make a call to the people to get involved with Rebuildthedream and expanding the reach of Progressives inside the Democratic Party via Precinct Committees every day! Please keep up the great work!
It'a govenment's job to see that the super-powerful don't use up all the finite resources for themselves, leaving nothing for other living beings.
John F. Kennedy spoke the obvious that has been ignored by the insane who think they will get a different result when implementing failed policies:
"When peaceful revolution becomes impossible, violent revolution becomes inevitable."
The corrolary is that violence must be increased to implement peace.
It is depressing to know that big money and special interests have bought our democracy and the voices of the majority of citizens have been drowned out. It is unbelievable that over $30 milllion were spent on 9 state senate recall elections. We should be talking to our friends, neighbors and co-workers about the stranglehold money has on politics and have this be an issue we citizens push back on in the upcoming 2012 elections. Check out the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's (WDC) website to follow the money for yourself: http://wisdc.org/index.php?module=cms&page=17 and join the WDC small dollar democracy initiative: http://wisdc.org/index.php?module=cms&page=3272
I recently heard, "In 1935, Monopoly is invented, where anyone can become a millionaire.”
We have, now, what I call, “The Monopoly Syndrome.”
By the 50s and 60s, we kids were all playing the game. We played for hours and hours... late into the night. It was fun to see names like, Fifth Avenue, to own Railroads and hotels and so many, many, houses.
I think this is one of the reasons so many poor people vote against their own interests —Taxing the wealthy, Estate Taxes... just waiting until the magic moment when we/they will become, "rich."
The Millionaires have become Billionaires... the poor are becoming poorer, and the middle-class, well, it is disappearing - not creating millionaires to fill in for the people who have advanced to billionaire-status.
Many have lost their way:
The US Congress
The Supreme Court
Thanks to people like:
The brothers - Koch...etc.
Now, we have manipulation, propaganda, ...
I am referring to myself and others like me as the "normal" people. Normal is a much more all incompassing category as opposed to the working class, the average person, etc. I am not uberrich, I am not greedy, I live within the law, I pay my taxes, I work, I do not live in a gated community, I am not power hungry, I am in favor of the common good, etc. Those unlike me I consider to be "abnormal". They want and strive for all of those things that do not define me.
Good on you Gene. Has anybody been watching the news from the UK?
(Response to Gene Savory) Good on you, Gene. Has anybody been watching the news from the UK?
"when the elephants fight, the mice get trampled" ...but elephants can't trample on larks in flight! If we had enough larks and to peck out the eyes of the elephants they may fall over the precipice and no longer be a problem. Tale of the "Lark and the Elephant"..."Kubra wa Feel".
"Freedom of Speech" not freedom to speak.
Ayn (rymes with mine) Rand's utopia is WORSE than fasicism. It's Nihilism, it's philosophical foundation mutes it's own existence. There is a reason why it's never been pulled off to their satisfaction. It can not exist, it's fantasy.
Right on, Dylan Ratigan!!!
Dylan Ratigan loses it on the air....tells it like it is....good for him...good for us...no one else on TV is showing such explosive emotions over the corruption of both Republicans and Democrats and the current American Banking and Wall Street.
watch the youtube video here:
What would The Riddler do to win a pretend election? The oligarch investments in Wisconsin are easily worth the ruse despite their large (multimillion) cost numbers, shocking to the public but multiplied abundantly in returns when the investors’ minions are in power. The Democratic winners as mitigating token bones thrown to the desperate public, the TV ads and other PR that entertain the “strong” possibilities that Corporate Oligarchs and their favorites are good and that their side has the best chance and can and should win, help to make believable the reality of their beneficiaries winning when the “real reality” is that their best chance to win was the fact that voting machines can be, have been and are technically and undiscernibly rigged; and that clearly few or perhaps no one can or will figure out how to implement a change to that reality. MSNBC appears to have no reason to talk about the probability of hacked voting machines in the Wisconsin recall. Was Mr. Obama elected to do what he promised or was he “elected” to do what he has done or has not done?
In search of a fool proof method of casting and counting votes, one finds that we are much better off with carefully monitored Paper Ballots!
In case you haven’t seen this comment about hacked voting machines, by pahrumplife, posted Oct 15th 2010 15:14 here’s the URL:
"Mythical" was the word used, not "Mystical"... framing your comments with the correct words makes a more intelligent argument.
Also, this is in reply to #20, not #21 as the incorrect data shows.
I think we the people have three great concerns ahead of us before we ever see a fair election again.
1. The ones we do battle with.
2. voting machines
3. The surpreme court
I think we need to get a slick mouth piece to take them to court, and see if we can get an inJUNKtion that would put a hold on the first three until the 2012 election is over. What say ye, can it be done.
It is not we who are pitting the people against the super wealthy. It is the government that is doing so by repeatedly giving tax breaks to large corporations and to the wealthy, while making the middle- and lower-classes pay an inordinate proportion of their income in taxes. No one is saying that the government should confiscate the wealth of the rich and redistribute it. We ARE saying that the wealthy should pay an equal share of their income in taxes, and that large corporations should not be given tax breaks when they are experiencing good profits and have millions to give to CEOs; and especially not if they are sending jobs abroad. If companies want to save on labor by sending jobs abroad, fine; but don't expect tax breaks here in the U.S.A.
Good...Let the revolution begin!!!!!
Today on AlterNet, I read a letter written by Michael Moore on the death of the middle class (Thirty Years Ago Today: The Day the Middle Class Died). Its message is a call to "arms" for us to stand in solidarity against all that is going wrong with America, yet in the comments, I saw no one say, "I'm with you. Let's get started."
The apathy and willful ignorance of many people and the worship of the wealthy in this country makes me sick. In my red county, the capitol's newspaper's readers' comments are full of bozos kissing rich butt, spouting old tired conservative lies they heard on Fox and from Rush and his ilk. It seems to me if we held the American Revolution today, these bozos are the same people who would have sided with the corrupt power of the British.
And as I have said many times: WE NEED CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM--after we impeach the K-RATS (Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scailia). I read somewhere that the Supreme Court ruled (5 to 4) this summer to strike down Arizona's clean election laws: http://www.brennancenter.org/content/resource/mccomish_v._bennett/
The Revolutionary Granny is ready when "you all" are.
Thom, I am tired of hearing the soft-step term "oligarchy". Let's call it by its true, ugly name: FASCISM. One of the reasons why this is happening is because people are unwilling to call it what it is. We don't want to scare people. Well, it IS scary. The most common tactic used by the Republican Party is to scare the people. They invent or twist stories to frighten those who do not do their homework. We don't even have to twist or invent. We just have to be willing to be forthright and tell it like it is.
Thom, I'm sure you didn't really mean that the oligarchs have won. You're just frustrated, which is perfectly understandable. But you know, we actually did ok in Wisconsin. Didn't get everything we wanted, but we did ok, it was a shot across their bow, with more to come.
I'm going to prescribe a treatment for you: go watch a Marx Brothers movie, and talk to us in the morning.
Subject: "Congressional Reform Act of 2011"
The purpose of this petition is to reform government so that our elected representatives have the same rights as all Americans, to help them remember that ours is a citizen democracy of equals and that they are us.
So I signed a petition to The United States House of Representatives and The United States Senate, which says:
"Congressional Reform Act of 2011
1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.
2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately.
All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all other Americans do.
4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
5. Congress loses their current health-care benefits -- until such time as health care is provided for all Americans -- and thus participates in the same health-care system as the rest of the American people.
6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.
Will you sign this petition? Click here:
I agree, 2 things we need immediately are to eliminate voting machines, and inact campaign financing laws. We trust these machines to much and we have allowed money to take over our elections.
I agree we need to fight back and take back our Democracy. We have the numbers to win we just need to focus and stand up for our rights. We need to be a monkey wrench to the facists, oligarchs, and royalty who serve other interests than the people's.
In addition to paper ballots, reversing the Citizens United decision, impeaching the Supreme Court Justices who have inflated and abused their powers. We can boycott and we can be civil disobedient. I think a organized national takeover of every state capitol, or the offices of our Legislators with significant numbers of concerned citizens demanding the American Dream Platform be inacted might be a possible first step. Bring sleelping bags etc and have 50 State Capitol's held hostage to listen and enact the Progressive Agenda. Fight Fire with Fire. They held us hostage with their Shock Doctrine tactics. We need our own leverage. I think if 50 states had actions simultaneously then perhaps the mass media would be forced to report the news for once.
I like what Tavis Smilely and Cornell West have done to fight back and hold government accountable. They give the poor a voice and bring the plight of the real America into the discussion. It took one straw to break the camels back, we need all the straws we can get and who knows which one will be the one to tip the scales in our favor. On Wisconsin, you are The Progressive Model too. We can see we can still Win you have shown us "what taking it to the streets means" nobody said it was gonna be easy. Now we must all get our courage and take it to the streets.
I am confused by the responses to my post. I would like to clear up any misconceptions about my post. I am not sure how it could be taken this way or maybe I'm completely off base, but my comments was in no way in support of Ayn Rand or her self important philosophy.
What now? Well it's looking more and more like a society free from all that gosh darn Democracy, Govt, taxation, laws, regulation, "We The People", stuff. At least then the Tea Party citizens will be able to retire with the dignity of not having to deal with all that socialist FDR entitlement crap that destroyed our great country in the first place. Then and only then will they have all the free time that comes with old age, to actually sit and THINK, as they freeze to death, clutching their last spoonful of cat food about, HOW DID I GET HERE?
I wonder if the thought will be, Gee Whizz I might not be able to afford heating oil but the free market helped two more guys become billionaires in the recent artificial spike in oil commodities trading prices. Or instead will the thought be, damn, I should have listened to that Senator from Vermont!
You are assuming that Tea Party people can have an independent thought without fox news or hannity telling them what to think.
Well I'm guessing with a depleted 401k being their only retirement income, television is no longer affordable and they would be alone with their thoughts, but you could be right, without fox, internal dialogue might be assuming to much.
I was replying to #16 (I think) not to you. The # on the reply is off it seems...(and yes it is, this is in reply to #43 not #42)
Advertising works which is why so much is spent on it whether you are selling products or a candidate. With enough money, you can make the average person believe that the sky is red so I don't see how our democracy can survive. This becomes even more true the more financially desperate people become. Even if people can find the time to vote, desperate people do not have the time or resources to become knowledgeable. It is sad to see really. The same people who are becoming more and more desperate are the ones who are increasingly voting against their own best interests (and the common good) because they buy the lies. It is natural for the big corporations and the very rich who run them to want less effective government and less regulation because it increases their wealth and power. The unnatural thing is how effective they have been in getting the masses to fight against their own best interest and to hate the one thing- government- that might be able to protect them against the Oligarchy.
The key phrase in your comment is "as a member of a neighborhood association, as a member of the ASPCA or as a shareholder in a corporation" -- you see, they are all individuals, persons, if you will. A corporation is not a person, and money is not speech. Simple as that. I have a feeling that Ayn Rand would see the point!
It is time for We the People to rise. As you say on your show, grass roots movements are the real drivers behind change in our country. We have done it before, we can do it again. Move to amend (movetoamend.org) the constitution to strip corporations of their "rights" is THE first step.
As a physician (general surgeon), I glad to hear someone finally discuss The Spirit Level. The rich oligarchs are not only waging war on the middle class, they are literally causing us to die young; this is a big killer which needs to be stopped. The culture of blame and shame needs to go.
The death of the Republic began November 22, 1963. It continues relentlessly today.
It is quite horrendous to pit the people against the mythical "super wealthy."
There is a major flaw in the premise: It is the premise that somehow these super-rich actually have capital that can not only pay for everything we need and eradicate poverty and inequality, but that they are actually holding it from the people. This implies that it belongs to the people, and it is up to the STATE to confiscate and redistribute it.
The origin of this thinking is quite obvious. Hint: Europe, mid to late 19th century.