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Monday, June 19, 2006

Corporate Donation Strategy Exposes Fallacy in "Money is Speech" Theory

Defenders of wealthy hegemony of American politics repeat ad nauseam the mantra that money is speech, therefore regulating political contributions should be unconstitutional. A look at corporate America's political contributions exposes this theory for the self-serving propaganda that it is.

Corporate PACs have contributed predominantly to Republican candidates since the Democrats lost control of the House in 1994, but this year, polling shows Democrats with a sizeable lead nationally. Although it is unclear whether the Dems' lead in the polls will translate into electoral victories in a sufficient number of individual races for the Dems to take over one of the two houses of Congress, that uncertainty has some corporations steering a greater percentage of their political contributions to Democrats, as Brody Mullins reports in the Wall Street Journal.

Corporate PACs make political contributions to ensure that friendly politicians are in office in a position to help the corporation's bottom line. It doesn't matter what a candidate's party affiliation or political philosophy is, as long as the corporation can count on the politician come vote time.

If Democrats control Congress, and are in a better position to help corporations, they will get more money. If Republicans are in control, they will get more corporate money. In other words, just like any investment strategy, corporate America is hedging its bets with political contributions.

But is that free speech? Essentially, they're saying: "We want to make more money." No kidding - who doesn't? The rest of us don't have millions to dole out to candidates to make sure that Congress passes laws that put more money in our pockets. Does that mean we don't get the same amount of "free speech" as wealthy interests, be they corporate or otherwise?

The current regime, backed by the wealthy and powerful on the left and right of American politics, offers a sliding scale of protection, dependent solely on a person's wealth. My guess is that most Americans have a different notion of what the First Amendment means.

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