This from Jonathan Alter's most recent column about the Supreme Court decision to let corporations put unlimited money into any election.
In oral arguments, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, another dissenter, asked if foreign companies should have the same free-speech rights as domestic ones, since foreign individuals are allowed to make a speech here. The majority had no answer, and opened the door to a Chinese bank or Russian oligarch buying Congress.
Right now, the American political landscape has two camps regarding government and the corporation. One is wrong and the other is irrelevant. Sadly, it’ll probably take about a decade or two for communities to catch up.
One camp applauds the Supreme Court’s decision to let corporations spend unlimited amounts in elections. They rightfully see corporations as the engine for our economy, the creators of wealth and jobs. They wrongfully think that this means that corporations’ interest will dovetail with local communities and thus don’t need regulation.
Another camp is outraged at the Supreme Court’s decision. They rightfully see corporations as more interested in profits than American jobs and more interested in avoiding costs than accepting regulations that lessen the damage to communities through pollution and other egregious acts. They wrongly think that in a global economy the government has much influence over an institution that is so dispersed (we talk about “the corporation” but there are, in fact, thousands and thousands), pervasive, malleable, and quick.
Sadly, while political parties engage in the equivalent of Beta vs. VHS debate, the corporation continues to gain power in ways that don’t necessarily benefit communities here in the US.
The church could not reform the nation-state. Once the state had eclipsed the church in dominance, citizens had to transform the nation-state through revolution. Today, a similar thing has to occur within the corporation. Stockholders and employees – owners of the financial and intellectual capital of corporations – have to transform the corporation from within.
I’m optimistic that this can happen. I’m not optimistic that many people will even try to play this game for another decade or two.