On March 2, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the McCutcheon v. FEC case that the wealthy could donate funds to an unlimited number of candidates, party campaign committees and political action committees.
Before this ruling, the most that one billionaire could openly give was $123,000 during each two-year “cycle.” Now each can give millions to back hundreds of candidates’ campaigns.
In 2010, the same court had ruled that corporations, being “people,” could give super PACs unlimited amounts of money.
According to the court, this is not bribery — it is an exercise of “free speech.” Of course, this “speech” can only be spoken by those with vast amounts of cash on hand: the financiers, bankers and corporation owners who make up the ruling class.
With this latest ruling, nearly all the post-Watergate-scandal laws and regulations meant to prevent some of the most egregious corporate campaign funding have been swept away.
Both Republican and Democratic Party leaders are ecstatic over this ruling. Reince Priebus, head of the Republican National Committee, announced gleefully that this ruling “allows us to go to our donors and say: ‘Look, instead of being able to give to only nine Senate candidates, you can now give to the 14 that are most in play. And you can give to the Senate committee, the congressional committee and the RNC, and you can max out to all three.’”
A Democratic Party official echoed Priebus, even more crudely, confiding that he was “happy as a pig in sh*t.” (blogs.rollcall.com, “Will McCutcheon Ruling Boost Political Parties?” April 2)
Of course, bankers and industrialists have long controlled both political parties and their candidates. In the book “Market Elections,” author Vince Copeland, a founder of Workers World Party, described the political machinations of the capitalist “kingmakers” from 1876, when Black Reconstruction was betrayed, to 1976, when the Mellons and Lehmans — and somewhat secretly, the Rockefellers — backed Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford.
Copeland explained that the bankers could not by themselves determine the outcome of each election. Typically, they invest in both political parties to protect their vast interests. But they groom most of the candidates and have their people fill the key posts.
Why is the Supreme Court, the most undemocratic institution of the federal government, allowing the billionaire class to tighten its grip on the electoral process at this time?
U.S. capitalism is a social and economic system that depends on the loyalty, or at least the quiet acquiescence, of its workers, particularly white workers. Wages are the chains to the social order. In return for a livable income, the workers must allow most of the value that they produce to be taken from them. Workers are supposed to accept being exploited. They are also obligated to fight in the wars generated by the master class to maintain and expand its rule.
Elections and the two-party system have served to maintain this rule. Workers are offered a choice between candidates presented to them by the billionaires. Even many unions are drawn into this charade. They call it “democracy.”
But now U.S. imperialism is in a deep crisis. Millions have been thrown out of work and can’t get even minimal wages to live on. Others are offered such low wages that even if they work they can starve. Black and Latino/a youth face police brutality and lives in prison.
So elections, for so long an arena controlled by the bankers and corporate giants, could become a danger.
Just last year in Mississippi, which has been the most reactionary state in the country, a true revolutionary — Chokwe Lumumba — was elected mayor of the state’s largest city, Jackson.
So, on the one hand, the oligarchs have directed their court to remove any obstacle to their vast wealth being used to buy unlimited advertising for their most loyal candidates. And on the other hand, they have manufactured onerous laws and regulations to prevent millions of people from voting, particularly oppressed people.
However, the McCutcheon ruling is a sign of ruling-class weakness, not strength. It means that they must spend more to maintain the lie that the profit system is the best of all possible worlds. In the end, that system cannot endure.
To order “Market Elections,” send $10 with your name and address to Workers World, 147 W. 24th St., 2nd flr., New York, NY 10011. (Includes shipping.)