Money, my friends, is, in fact, speech. Corporations are, in fact, persons. I know that this stance is not one that is considered populist, or popular, but I can’t get away from the fact that it is, whether we like it or not. And I can prove it to you.
If I am of a particular political persuasion, (and I am), then the first amendment protects my right to freedom of speech. To wit: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”
So, assuming that the above is accurate, (and it is), then you certainly wouldn’t try to stop me from printing a small, hand-printed newsletter (or an internationally distributed newspaper) in which I express my political opinion, including a preference for a candidate, would you?
If that newspaper became successful enough that, for financial reasons, I decided to incorporate, (as most newspapers have) then my right to continue to “speak” would not have changed. (If you disagree, you need to take issue with every single newspaper and news organization in the country, including the NY Times, Fox, CBS, etc.). The editorial page is my canvas and I can say whatever I want to say, and then depend on thousands of people to read it.
Keep in mind; we’re not talking about freedom of the press here. That is a different issue. We’re talking about whether a person loses his right to free speech just because he controls a wealthy corporation. He does not.
Now, let’s say I take my enormous wealth and buy some airtime on CBS. I pay $10 million for a ten-minute spot where I can expound on the virtues of my candidate while exposing that the opposition’s guy is an atheist, vegetarian, gay pornographer who kicks puppies and hates America. So far, there is nothing in the First Amendment that stops me, is there?
For those who like to ridicule the issue of a corporation having the same first amendment rights as a person, one must only understand that the people who make up that corporation do not give up their rights just because of their ostensible size and power, any more than 10,000 football fans give up their right to scream at the top of their lungs in favor of a team just because there are 10,000 of them. Because you are bigger, louder and more powerful and, yes, wealthier than me, does not mean you have to subordinate your rights to mine.
If I pool my money and buy a billboard that favors a candidate, or 50 billboards that say the same thing, you have no right to stop me just because you can’t afford a billboard. That’s not my problem nor does it limit my rights.
Yes my friends; money is speech. Corporations (within the framework of certain rights) are in-fact persons.
But, all is not lost my dear readers. As Meg Whitman, who spent $100 million of her own money to lose the California governor’s race, Sheldon Adelson, who spent about the same amount trying to defeat Barak Obama, and Karl Rove’s Super PAC, American Crossroads, who spent $90 million primarily failing to turn the Senate into a Republican majority will tell you, big, expensive speech isn’t necessarily more powerful speech.
The most powerful speech is pervasive, persuasive, and appeals to our sensibilities. And it usually comes from sources that have no monetary or other personal stake in the outcome. It comes from those of us who take the time to make a case which is embedded with logic, welcoming of scrutiny, and able to stand on its own, irrespective of those who try to suppress it with mere heft.
There is something called the Irresistible Force paradox, where an immovable object is faced by an irresistible force. The paradox lies in the question of which will prevail. Yet it is assumed to be a paradox only by those who don’t reason it out.
The immovable object may not want to move, and it is assumed that it must be moved in order for the irresistible force to win the contest. But that is small minded. Imagine an enormous bolder blocking a tiny stream. The water in the stream can’t move the boulder, but it is irresistible, hence, relentless, so it simply builds up enough water to go around the boulder.
The immovable objects are the bloated, self-assured big money interests which try to dominate politics. They can stay right where they are and remain immovable. The irresistible force is logic, ideas, and courage, and we can go in any direction we like.
And we will…