The Supreme Court made an unbelievable ruling today that prevents the government from banning political spending by corporations in elections. It overturns the decision made by the Court 20 years ago that barred corporations from spending money in favor or in opposition of political candidates. I acknowledge that my blog is about food, and, for the most part, I do keep the content light. Yet, as an active constituent, consumer, environmentalist and an avid proponent of a new American food system, this decision alters the U.S. political landscape significantly. My point is more than just "Down with Corporate America!"; the Court's ruling tests notions of what it means to be a voter and member of a democracy.
Such a ruling essentially opens the floodgates for huge companies to use their economic prowess to influence political candidates. Nothing really new there, but it does make it much easier for companies to have a much more vocal say in politics and subsequent future decisions at the federal level. Fortunately, the Court's decision does not overturn the pre-existing restriction that prohibits companies from directly funding candidates or political parties.
The free speech argument in this ruling is a weak one. And, sure, politicians who seek to enter races can endear themselves to men and women in the business world to bolster their prestige and win over voters, or at least those who can put them in office. It's obvious, but money does equal power and, coupled with well-placed endorsements, special interest funding, lobbying efforts and other political tactics, corporations will trump the political voice of individuals. The only politicians who will benefit from the Court's ruling are conservatives, who have long been the puppets of big business in the political realm.
Today's Supreme Court decision has immediate and obvious outcomes, as well as those not yet acknowledged. President Obama voiced his concern shortly after the ruling,
The Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics ... It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans."
If we are to see any change to healthcare and economic reform, this decision poses both roadblocks to the elected officials who actually serve their constituents, not those who just want to appeal to the business world for professional and personal gain.
As for the farm bill and other changes to the agricultural sector, motivated and politically aware Americans know legislation needs to reflect the times. Growing numbers of people know about the detrimental effects that current food production has on humans, animals and the environment as well as added pressures to an already stressed public health, political and economic system. The Court just made it easier for agribusiness to have greater influence on Capitol Hill and further delay reform to an already unhealthy, unjust and pro-business model of our food system.
It's also time for opponents of the Court's ruling to step up - yes, you, Democrats! - and do what you can for the growing population of impatient voters who want action. It's time for the people to stand up and do what you can to continue to boycott corporate bullies. Speak with your food!