The Biggest Roadblocks
to True Democracy
Excerpted from "First Steps on a Long Road"
By William Rivers Pitt
January 23, 2009 - Confronting every American citizen is the existence of three dominant factors which have become part of the nation's DNA over the course of the last century and a half. Each of these factors holds muscular sway over the doings of government and has a direct effect upon all our lives. None of them are going away any time soon, and that is fact.
1. CORPORATE PERSONHOOD
One of these three is the existence of something called "corporate personhood," the legal theory established by a number of Supreme Court cases, including the 1886 Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad, which grants 14th Amendment rights to corporations. In essence, it is a legal shield that grants the same rights and privileges of citizenry enjoyed by you and me to faceless, on-paper corporate constructs. This has given rise to what can only be described as corporate super-citizens, entities with our rights but with the enormous financial ability to press, and indeed distort, those rights for their own purposes.
2. MONEY = FREE SPEECH
Another factor we currently endure is the lingering existence and aftereffect of the establishment of legalized political bribery, best represented by the 1976 Supreme Court decision in Buckley v. Valeo. In short, due to decisions like the one in Buckley, the payment of millions of dollars to political parties and candidates amounts to "free speech." Combined with the existence of corporate personhood, the result was corporate super-citizens pressing their "rights" by purchasing politics wholesale. Corporations seeking the dismantling of media ownership rules, the deregulation of banking and financial strictures, and the denuding of environmental protections merely purchased enough politicians via "free speech" contributions, and they got what they wanted.
3. MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX:
THE PERMANENT WAR ECONOMY
The third factor takes us all the way back to World War II, and is where the confluence of those first two factors truly came together to form a juggernaut that marks every part of our national landscape. In order to gear up for the kind of colossal manufacturing output required to defeat two massive military powers on opposite ends of the globe, President Roosevelt placed our national economy on a wartime footing. With the establishment of the Truman Doctrine to confront Soviet communism, and the passage of the National Security Act in 1947, America's wartime economic footing became a permanent thing that remains at the nucleus of our national economy to this day.
Put plainly, much of the health of the American economy today requires the permanent preparation for and fighting of wars. The corporate persons who profit from defense spending have made sure, by way of their "free speech" spending on pet politicians and acquirement of major media outlets, that nothing interferes with the financial processes of this arrangement. Their politicians and media spokesmen terrify the people with the golems of imminent national doom, the money rolls in, and the world gets more dangerous by the day.
These three legs are the tripod upon which our national reality currently stands, and not to put too fine a point on it, but President Barack Hussein Obama isn't going to put even a tiny dent in the way things are. No president can, not completely, and certainly not now. Fixing this self-destructive arrangement cannot be accomplished in one fell swoop, but will require the slow, steady, patient dedication of a lifetime ... along with victories in many more elections to come, of course.