Common Dreams - January 20, 2022
Today marks the twelfth anniversary of one of the most destructive rulings ever issued by the U.S. Supreme Court, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
That ruling from the Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts unleashed a tsunami of “dark money” engulfing every major national and state election since then. The billionaires pumping millions into our elections are known to their political beneficiaries but not to most Americans.
One consequence is the vicious chasm between what can pass Congress—such as huge tax cuts for billionaires like Charles Koch and Elon Musk—and what cannot. Elected officials whose fortunes are tied to the favor of such billionaires can block popular proposals with near impunity.
The result is a vicious cycle of thwarting policies that could help us all thrive—things like making billionaires pay their fair share, protecting the freedom to vote, securing paid sick leave for all, and investing in innovative ideas to respond to the climate crisis—while entrenching the economic and political power of the richest few.
This destabilizes not only the health of our economy but also our ability to function as a free and democratic society.
Certainly, the Dred Scot decision and the century of its racist progeny that followed caused greater wreckage of Black lives and more, but the Citizens United ruling is deeply pernicious.
It is also a bellwether for the radically reactionary edicts that the sharply right-wing Roberts Court is poised to issue later this year. This is the first full Supreme Court term that includes all three of the unworthy judges that Donald Trump—and dark money—installed as umpires.
The group called “Citizens United” was launched in 1988 by Floyd Brown, a GOP insider responsible for the race-baiting “Willie Horton” ad, which helped George H.W. Bush win more white voters and, with them, the White House. In 1992, David Bossie joined Brown at Citizens United where they worked alongside Koch-funded groups to block Democratic proposals, such as the health care reforms proposed by Bill and Hillary Clinton. Bossie is now more widely known as a senior Trump advisor in 2016 and 2020.
Before then, Bossie worked briefly for Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) on the investigation of the Clintons under the pretext of the Whitewater scandal before Bossie was forced out over his controversial tactics. In 2000, Bossie took the revolving door back to Citizens United, where he focused on defeating the presidential bids of John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. Under Bossie, Citizens United also opposed the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (BCRA, known as the McCain-Feingold Act) along with the Kochs’ “Citizens for a Sound Economy” (the predecessor of “Americans for Prosperity”) and people like the now infamous Cleta Mitchell. ...
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