I believe that history will record the Citizens United decision as the point in time from which to date the transmutation of American democracy into something quite different. What form will it take? I don’t think voting is going to end, What I see is that the form will continue with limitations. For one thing, unless socially progressive people can get millions who have previously not done so to vote, the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act will result in a smaller more conservative electorate.
To this must be added the almost never discussed role of neuroscience in politics. A large part of the money that is flooding into our political process is being spent to tune media by using psychophysiological response processes to produce a desired behavior. Five ideologues created an environment in which unlimited sums could be spent to manipulate a limited electorate. Is it successful? That’s why you see people routinely voting against their own self-interest.
When Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy cast the deciding vote to gut a century of campaign finance law, he assured the public that the unlimited corporate spending he was ushering in would “not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Because those authorized to give and spend unlimited amounts were legally required to remain independent of the politicians themselves, Kennedy reasoned, there was no cause for concern.
Just five years later, in a development that may be surprising only to Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision is reshaping how, how much and to whom money flows in Washington.
How the flood of money released by Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has changed elections has been the subject of much discussion, but the decision’s role in allowing that same money to soak the legislative process has largely gone unreported. According to an extensive review of…