La Dolce Vita

A few thoughts from Steven Rockford
Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 19, 2010 3:30PM

SCOTUS and local elections

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Vote for Jimmy Wingnut 



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We’ve all heard the expression: “I wouldn’t vote for Jimmy Wingnut (or whomever), even if he was running for dog catcher! 

Well, it appears that Jimmy has a pretty good chance of being elected these days, thanks to the Citizens United (CU) “gift” presented to local corporate and special interest organizations by the Supreme Court of the United States.  Most of the CU media focus has been at the federal and state level.  But, an equally important negative impact of this ruling is being felt within our counties and cities.

Take for example the upcoming election for seats on the Scottsdale, Arizona city council.  To the average Scottsdale resident, the candidates appear to be normal “shaking hands and kissing babies” politicians – except that three of the candidates are getting considerably more local air-time than usual.  If anyone looks closely, they will find that all three of these candidates have one thing in common – they have each received $29 thousand in non-candidate funded advertisements, legally (thanks to CU) paid for by Southwest Ambulance Inc.  Normally, individual candidate spending on these local campaigns total about 10% of this amount. 

Southwest Ambulance has been trying to persuade the City of Scottsdale to put their ambulance services out to open bidding, but have failed in the past by one vote in the city council.  If any (or all) of these three candidates are elected, this would most certainly break the open-bid deadlock.  Southwest’s investment of $87 thousand in three candidates would reap financial rewards in the $hundreds of thousands in the future. 

An important point here is that this type of behind-the-scenes funding of candidates would normally go unnoticed by local voters.  In fact, if it wasn’t for the investigative reporting done by Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic, we wouldn’t have known about the Southwest Ambulance pay-to-play scheme.  Even then, inasmuch as Laurie’s article received back-page coverage, it is unlikely that many Scottsdale voters are aware of this issue. 

One has to believe that this type of behind-the-scenes buying of local elections must be going on throughout the country.  In addition to the undemocratic concerns created by these back-room deals, many moral questions have been raised in regard to the private company take-over of public services.  The recent Tennessee Fire Non-Response story is a good case-in-point. 

In addition, local judiciary elections have become a major concern as a result of the Citizens United ruling.  In February, Bill Moyers aired an excellent presentation on the local election of judges.   According to Moyers:      

“The Citizens United decision means… elected judges are even more susceptible to the corrupting influence of cash, because many of their decisions in civil cases directly affect corporate America, and a significant amount of the money judges raise for their campaigns comes from lobbyists and lawyers.

There's now a crooked sign hanging on every courthouse in America reading ‘Justice for Sale’." 

Local corporations and special interest groups are just beginning to recognize the golden opportunities provided to them as a result of the Citizens United ruling.  Soon America Inc. will have many local subsidiaries named Scottsdale Inc., Peoria Inc., Miami Inc., Rochester Inc., San Jose Inc., etc. 

It’s simply a matter of time – thanks to the actions taken this year by five justices on the Supreme Court.

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The Roberts court's godawful ruling in Citizens United v. FEC was made possible only by yet another godawful ruling, this one by the Rehnquist court: Bush v. Gore. Had it not been for the meddling in Florida's election by SCOTUS, our country's worst president ever wouldn't have occupied the White House, and wouldn't have been able to nominate the two fascists Roberts & Alito.
Bush v. Gore was the end of our republic. We're now living under a oligarchy, by the rich and for the rich. If you think things are bad now, wait a year or two. We're fucked beyond hope.
You’re right Bob. Bush v Gore was the beginning of the end for “We the People” democracy in this country. The subsequent Roberts, Alito appointments represent the ultimate achievement for those seeking the advancement of corporatism in this country. We now live in an apparently-irreversible crony capitalist environment.

There will be many bumpy roads ahead.
vote for Jimmy Wingnut plz,i give him props:-)thanks
I always thought that political/election financing horribly corrupted the whole governing system and now it's irredeemingly worse. Money doesn't talk it swears anyone?

Bob Soper makes a good point. Thanks for the cheering up there.
Abrawang: yeah, always got to accentuate the positive, eh?
I'm reminded of a brief email exchange between the ever-gloomy Paul Craig Roberts (over at the ever-gloomy Counterpunch site) & myself, about 18 months ago:
Me: "It looks as though we are all (except for the super-rich) thoroughly screwed. What on earth can we as citizens do in the face of all this?"
PCR: "revolt"
the senate and reps have the power to set voting eligibility, if only through appeal to constitutional amendment. the responsibility is therefore shared.

fortunately, it doesn't really matter. it was not the case that the government of the usa was responsive to the welfare of private citizens before c.u., this merely rubs the noses of the plebs in their status. it's almost a good thing, making plain and public what has been going on in private.
Excellent post. Yes, everyone talks about Christine O'Donnell, Sarah Palin and their wayout ideas and what they stand for. They are corporate shills. Who cares what they stand for. How they got to be in a position of power should be the focus. We have the same thing going here in Oregon with Kitzhaber, a man who has governed, and Chris Dudley an ex-basketball player who does not even live in Oregon. It's ridiculous. Get ready for more infringements on individual citizen's rights to free speech as the supreme court now uses the vile Phelps family (they picket soldier's funerals) as an example of how horrible free speech can be. Dahlia Lithwick over at has some great articles about this. It's getting worse, not better. I hate to say it, but Bob Soper is correct.
Great point. We too often forget to think and act locally. In my case, I'm so out-numbered here that I just write off what's happening politically in my community, but I really shouldn't...This terrible court decision is going to affect us all much more than we think; Christine is the least of it!
the fundamental problem remains: when the people do not rule, whose who do rule for themselves.

of course, when the electorate is ignorant and passive, it could be argued they do not deserve any better than they get. but why complain endlessly about the failings of elective oligarchy, if you refuse to struggle for democracy?

are you totally unaware that 'we the people' democracy was publicly derided by the writers of the constitution, that the usa was never a 'we the people' polity?