When I first heard the news, my response was one of both outrage and a calm lack of surprise. I knew that there was a very real chance that the Supreme Court, in its McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission decision, would make it even more difficult to have limits on campaign spending. I suppose that I did not want to believe it. Thus, when the decision was issued, I found myself both resigned and furious at the same time.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s majority has made a mockery of right-wing allegations that it is liberals who have been engaged in so-called judicial activism. The conservative majority of the Supreme Court has gone out of its way to ensure the political supremacy of what the Occupy Movement called the one percent—the plutocrats.
There have been discussions ever since the Supreme Court’s notorious decision in the Citizens United case that there is need for a Constitutional amendment that addresses campaign finance. We now have an even more urgent need for such an amendment in light of the court’s further opening of the gates to super-money.
So, what do we do?
The first and most immediate step must be the formation of a very broad coalition to take initial steps towards securing such a Constitutional amendment. This coalition needs to make the midterm 2014 elections about the super-rich and money in elections. In that sense, candidates need to be running against the Supreme Court. Progressive candidates need to make the McCutcheon decision their battle-cry and use it to demonstrate the extent to which the one percent is moving at breakneck pace to derail any pretense of democracy. And they must commit to fighting for a Constitutional amendment to remove corruption from the electoral process.
The McCutcheon decision must be understood in tandem with the voter suppression efforts that we have been witnessing over the past eight years. These are steps that are being taken to hold back the future, that is, to deflate the power of the growing majority in the U.S.A. that is seeking broad and significant social and economic changes. To the extent to which people of color, youth, seniors, veterans, and others are blocked from voting and to the extent to which the faucets are opened for the super-rich to contribute inordinate amounts of money to the candidates that they now own, elections lose any meaning other than being a veneer over a very clever dictatorship of wealth.
The time has come to refocus the November elections on what is really at stake: the greed and avarice that now feels completely comfortable showing its face in public.
(Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a racial justice, labor and global justice writer and activist. He is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of They’re Bankrupting Us, And Twenty Other Myths about Unions.