VERN’S VIEWS: Plutocrats unraveling democracy

Last year, I wrote about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that, “If you are not a major player in this upper echelon game now being developed in the ivory towers of corporate America, your rights, freedoms and understanding of the American way also are at risk to the whims of candidates now about to be attached to the strings of the corporate puppeteers. Make no mistake, the candidates who emerge from this decision will not be part of any populist movement like the one President Obama conducted. Those quaint little activities will be overwhelmed by corporate-sponsored initiatives funded by virtually unlimited resources.”

Washington Post political columnist E.J. Dionne wrote on Feb. 5: “We have seen the world created by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and it doesn’t work. Oh, yes, it works nicely for the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country, especially if they want to shroud their efforts to influence politics behind shell corporations. It just doesn’t happen to work if you think we are a democracy and not a plutocracy. The Citizens United justices were not required to think through the practical consequences of sweeping aside decades of work by legislators, going back to the passage of the landmark Tillman Act in 1907, who sought to prevent untoward influence-peddling and indirect bribery."

Clearly, this product of judicial activism is reaping the whirlwind of corporations as people and money as speech. Dionne and I both agree this was the intent all along. Remember, Justice Antonin Scalia helped found the Federalist Society and recruited justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts. It is an extremely conservative, agenda-driven group that thinks the few should govern the masses. When the Constitution was drafted and finalized, the Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, lost the debate to the Jeffersonians and from that emerged the Bill of Rights. Why else would the Texas State School Board eliminate the story of our third president?

Add to that the Lewis Powell memo from 1971 in which he demanded of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that corporate/banking America join forces to influence Congress and the courts to overturn the New Deal laws as well as set up a ruling plutocracy that gave the moguls the legal right to do whatever they wanted to do. This is real history, not an opinion. The results of this organization gave us the K Street people like Bernie Madoff who made influence-peddling an art form. It gave us the revolving door for politicians becoming lobbyists. And now it has given us overt corporate influence on who represents us.

These events have combined to greatly damage the fabric of our nation. Together, they are unraveling our democracy as our citizens sit idly by and watch it happen. The ridicule heaped on the Occupy movements by right-wingers indicate they are afraid something will change their intent to have plutocracy instead of democracy. They want to stop it before it’s too late and the people actually rise up and take back their country.

Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. "The Voter’s Guide to National Salvation" is a newly published e-book from Turner. You can find it at He can be reached by email at

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