Once again we Americans are confronted with the tragedy of wanton slaughter at the hands of a crazed gunman. It's happened over and over and over again. And we've also been treated to the spectacle of a wave of Republican office holders, bought and paid for by the National Rifle Association, offering us prayers and condolences instead of legislative solutions. It has driven far too many of us to the point of exasperation. In light of the Parkland Slaughter, my question is, "Can do we go BEYOND exasperation?".
Make no mistake about it, we Americans ARE exasperated. We are running out of patience with politicians who offer us nothing but prayers and condolences rather than legislative action. But what REALLY frosts our cookies is that fact that an overwhelming majority of us Americans WANT to see meaningful legislation passed regulating guns but our prayerful public officials ignore us. Instead they are more in tune with self-serving corporate greed. And we grind our teeth in frustration because we can't quite grasp why the will of a small minority supersedes that of an overwhelming majority.
Actually, this isn't difficult to understand. The voices of mere human beings will always be drowned out by the sound and fury of corporate money. Who says so? Who died and made the good folks at Smith & Wesson the final arbiters of public safety? It's none other than the United States Supreme Court. Let me explain.
In the Citizens United ruling, the Supreme Court decided that corporations were entitled to the same freedom of speech as individual human beings. And why not? After all, fair is fair, isn't it? We all know that the power of the individual citizen is a fair match for the power of corporate interests, don't we? And shouldn't a good liberal like myself stand up and cheer when the Court speaks out in favor of the concept of equal protection under the law? Of course I should. That is, IF the power of the individual were anywhere near the power of the corporation. But it isn't and the the five members of the Court who voted in favor of the plaintiffs in the Citizens United ruling KNOW it isn't.
Just yesterday we saw corporate power arrayed against the power of the individual citizen in the state of Florida. Four hundred students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School boarded a bus to drive some four hundred miles to the Florida state capital to voice their support for a gun control bill. Before they could get anywhere near Tallahassee, the Florida House refused to even discuss the bill. They didn't care about four hundred individual voices rising as one to speak out on an important piece of legislation. Why? Because the entrenched power of corporate interests and play-for-pay lobbyists were already there in Tallahassee, and they didn't have to say one word. The powers-that-be that control the Florida Legislature already knew what the gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association had to say on the subject and they voted accordingly. Citizens United may deal with the theoretical application of Constitutional principles, but the vote in the Florida Legislature gave us a practical demonstration of the effect of Citizens United in the real world.
The sad fact is that free speech can get mighty expensive. Just try to buy advertising time on your local radio or television station or take out a full-page ad in your local newspaper. You, as an individual citizen, may have a hard time scraping together the cash to have your voice heard, but corporate America has no such difficulty. It's built into the corporate budget. Those kids from Parkland, Florida were only going to be there for one day. They would speak their piece and then they'd go on home. But the lobbyists and the corporate money they represent, THEY will be in Tallahassee EVERY DAY!! This is the reality of the Citizens United ruling, corporate money drowning out individual free speech.
I know a lot of people feel powerless. And in their powerlessness they feel exasperated. And out of their exasperation, they lose their tempers and get mad. Well, we all have to channel that anger and frustration into the political realm. We have to fight and claw to take back our individual power and put corporate greed and cupidity back in its place. So if you think the up-coming elections are an exercise in futility, if you think that you as an individual can do nothing, you're wrong. But you are going to have to ignore the bought-and-paid-for messages coming out of your television sets, your radios, end yes, even your internet, and you are going to have to repudiate the interests of corporate greed by electing a Congress and eventually a President who will change the make-up of the Supreme Court and overturn Citizens United!
Filed under: Politics