Citizens United Against Citizens United. Can Congress Capitalize?

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United holding that corporations and individuals should have the same degree of political speech rights set off a firestorm of criticism from both the right and the left.  A significant degree of that criticism is well-founded.  By ruling that corporations and unions can spend unlimited amounts from their direct accounts in the political process the Supreme Court gave de jure acknowledgement that capitalism has replaced democracy as the reigning ideological framework guiding law and policy. 

But could this be a classic case of political overreach, this time by the corporate elite?  A recent poll by the People For the America Way suggests that just might be the case.  According to the results, Americans of every political persuasion are firmly opposed to the decision and want to see Congress take action.  As a whole, Americans, including a majority of Republicans and conservatives, believe that corporations have too much influence in elections and want to see limits on corporate campaign expenditures.  In fact 73% believe Congress should be limited in how much they can spend to influence elections. 

The results get to specifics that reflect a growing disgust with the corporate robber barons profiteering while most Americans struggle.  87% of those polled supported campaign spending limits on bailout recipients and 75% believe that a publicly traded company should get shareholder approval before spending  money in an election.

Many of these impulses are legislatively possible–like requiring shareholder approval for certain kinds and amounts of political expenditures, for example.  And efforts are underway in many states to make those kinds of requirements for local enterprises.  But at best the response has been scatershot and localized, which, in the legislative process, only results in unduly complex and confusing rules with questionable benefit.  And that’s without Congress stepping in.  

But it is refreshing to hear someone like Senator Schumer pledge to introduce legislation aimed at limiting the impact of Citizens United because the kind of regulation needed to address the impact of corporate influence in the election process has to, as a matter of efficiency and constitutionality, ultimatley come from the federal level. 

That said, it would be more refreshing to hear a conservative voice at the forefront of pushing back against interests that dilute the power of the individual.  This populist outrage uniting both the left and the right has the possibility to be more than politically powerful in the short-term.  If Congress fails to act, it has the possibility to cede permanently the idea that this country is a democracy first and a capitalistic economy second.

Let Congress know your democracy is not for sale. Head over and add your name to the Care2 petition now.

photo courtesy of stephen.moore via Flickr


Pamela M.
pam M7 years ago

This is why I am avoid the healthcare reform debate like the plague. In 3 years all will be moot.

This exercise in reform is just a waste of taxpayer dollars and our representatives time. Fat Cat corporations will be the puppet masters of our government and with China quietly buying up corporations they can buy their own president next time.

This law just kicked opened the door and sold our voting rights to the highest bidder.

Robert S.
Robert S7 years ago

They need to stop George Soros from spending unlimited amounts of money through groups like "move on" to influence our elections.

Dusty D.
Past Member 7 years ago

I know this is off the subject, but if you will just take a moment to look at my Petition-I would appreciate it kindly. Thanks!

Ellinor S.
Ellinor S7 years ago

thank you

sandra d.
sandra d8 years ago

That really isn't anything new.

James Carpenter
Past Member 8 years ago

so money talks, money will be buying votes in the USA

Ant m.
Ant m8 years ago

WOW corporations can vote now .........

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L8 years ago

It's not only's all the conservatives. I think there should be term limits for these fools. I don't have a problem with them being appointed but it should be for no more than 6 years.

michael lord
michael lord8 years ago

Dear God,I would ask that those who lead our country and those who live in this country are ones to remember you are our leader and only love shall prevail in their actions. Child that I am I believe my prayer to you is heard. I ask for peace and prosperity for all of my brothers and sisters. Amen

Joy Looney
Joy Looney8 years ago

I was VERY disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court. I was sure that they were supposed to be some of the most intelligent and fair people in the land. Turns out they are more stupid than I thought and they can be "bought" just like most people. Don't worry, we won't survive into the next century at the rate we are going.