Guest Column

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By Terry Grayson

Corporations and foreign interests now have more to say in our elections than you or I, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court. Two weeks ago, the Court broadened the status of corporate personhood with its 5 to 4 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Corporate personhood is the doctrine that corporations are considered to be individual persons in the eyes of the law. Any corporation, thanks to this incredibly obtuse interpretation of the intent of the U.S. Constitution, can now freely and limitlessly contribute directly toward the election (or defeat) of any candidate running for office. Consider, too, the multi-national aspect of our largest corporations, and it is easy to see how foreign influence will become a legal matter of fact in the outcome of our future elections.

Corporate dollars have been influencing the outcome of elections in this country since its inception, but there had always been restrictions and limits attached to that influence. The Supreme Court has now removed those obstacles and has left our political system unguarded against a corporate greed-fest that will be unleashed against the real people of this nation. If left unchecked it is not hard to imagine a time when corporate politicians control the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House. Their combined agendas could sap our resources, foul our environment, change our tax laws, create new wars for profit, strip us of our rights and benefits and subject us to racial and religious profiling.

This nation has been headed toward corporate government for a long time, but the Supreme Court has now given Corporatocracy its legal blessing. Benito Mussolini, one of the key figures in the creation of fascism once said, “Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.” A quote often credited to Sinclair Lewis goes like this: “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”

I know how dire all of this sounds, but I'm comforted by the strong desire of the American people to stand up for the principles upon which this nation was founded. The 1773 Boston Tea Party was organized and carried out by colonists, who were local merchants, in protest of the British East India Company (BEIC). The BEIC was a multi-national corporation founded in 1600 that was flooding the colonies with tea. The tax breaks they were receiving from the British government allowed them to undercut the prices of colonial tea merchants, thus threatening to drive them out of business. The act of destroying the cargo of the BEIC ships in Boston Harbor struck a blow against corporatism and helped inspire the revolution that led to the founding of our United States.

To his great credit President Barack Obama, in last week's State of the Union address, condemned the Supreme Court's ruling and urged Congress to correct “some of these problems." While his words were not as forceful as I would have liked, I believe his intent was clear. This, of course, leaves the problems in the hands of obstructionist Republicans and divided Democrats. Clearly this matter will not be addressed as urgently as it needs to be unless the people make it their mission to see that it is.

As a nation we are in the midst of an economic recession started by corporate bankers, involved in two duplicitous wars and have had health care reform legislation brought to a screeching halt by the health care industry. On top of that we are in an election year. How strangely convenient it is that we are now being forced, by our own $upreme Court, to elect candidates who can potentially be backed by multi-billion dollar corporations.

Can you hear the sounds of our founding fathers turning over in their graves? I can. If “we the people” do not rise to meet this imperious challenge to our liberty we doom ourselves to a fate that will have us joining our founding fathers where they lie.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. – Thomas Jefferson