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There's No Hiding It: Citizens United Wasn't About "Speech" -- It Was About Takeover of American Democracy

Three things don’t go together: Money. Secrecy. Democracy. That’s the nub of the matter.

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That’s what a couple of hundred protesters were doing just the other day. They  marched to the D.C. offices of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, those right wing money mills run by the mastermind of so much of this massive fundraising, Karl Rove. He’s making a bundle buying and selling “Free Speech,” while at the same time deploring the disclosure of big donors’ names as “shameful” intimidation!

Exercising their First Amendment rights, the demonstrators taped a kind of wanted poster on Rove’s office door, indicating they would like to see him wearing an orange prison jumpsuit. Instead, he could be seen in casual wear, buzzing around in a golf cart at Mitt Romney’s Utah mountain gathering of high rollers. No doubt plotting how to raise more millions to pay for more “free speech.”

So let’s see if we’ve got this right: On the one hand, conservatives declare that corporations and the super-rich can spend all they want on exercising their First Amendment rights, but on the other, they demand to keep it secret so the rest of us can’t exercise our First Amendment rights to fight back. Have you ever heard of more cowardly lions?

It’s one big joke. Big enough to make you cry. Three things don’t go together: Money. Secrecy. Democracy. That’s the nub of the matter. This is all a sham for invalidating democracy in the name of democracy. It’s the trick authoritarians always use to hide their real intentions, which in this case is absolute power over our public life and institutions: the privatization of everything.

The Supreme Court is pointing the way. Instead of mitigating the worst excesses of both the state and the private sector, with  Citizens United and the latest decision affirming it, the Court has taken sides — saying to the massed wealth of the one percent: America is yours for the taking, for the buying. Help yourself.

That’s what George II thought, too, which brings us back to our celebration of the 4th of July, to the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson, who seems to have thought that a little uprising now and then would be good for what ails us. This time the overweening power is not monarchy but plutocracy, the convergence of the political, religious and corporate right that would keep us in the dark about where all that money is coming from, and who it’s buying, until one day we wake up and our country is no longer our own.

Fortunately, those orange jump suits come in one size fits all. So remember, moneyed lords and ladies, what King George learned the hard way — you can only push your subjects so far.

Veteran journalist Bill Moyers is the host of “Moyers & Company,” airing weekly on public television. Check your local listings. More at www.billmoyers.com

 
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