What Citizens United ruling unleashed: More polarization, massive cashing in on government shutdown


citizens united cartoon

Has your inbox been filled with eleventy-thousand urgent!! fundraising emails in the past few days? Have you watched Republican after Republican on the Tee Vee Machine blaming President Obama for not "reaching out" and meeting them halfway on Obamacare?

That would be the same Obamacare-- the Affordable Care Act-- that is a law that was already voted for and passed by Congress, signed by the president, and legally approved by the Supreme Court. That Obamacare.

Have you come to the obvious conclusion that it is the GOP's obstruction that has caused leglislative gridlock after Democrats sent them bill after bill that they would never even bring up for a vote?

Did you realize that all that obstruction, plus a heaping bucketful of steaming Citizens United repercussions are complicit in the incessant, destructive roadblocks, fighting, and infighting that's occurring as we speak, leading to an imminent government shutdown?

Hey, me too.

Note to Congress: Obamacare will happen, shutdown or no shutdown. It's the law. Done deal. It falls under mandatory government spending, so it will not be stopped. And by the way, it's not a bill, it's the law. Did I mention it's the law?

obama signature health care affordable care act

it's the law

The Los Angeles Times has a substantive article today that covers the finger pointing and threats of a federal shutdown resulting in-- wait for it-- a windfall for fundraisers. But a depressingly fascinating element is how the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision is a major factor in the dysfunctional stalemate that we're all witnessing as I write this:

Court decisions and changes in election laws have wiped out limits on how much groups can spend, dramatically increasing the influence of outside organizations on political campaigns and legislative priorities. The groups, in turn, feed the polarization of Congress, pushing members toward the extremes [...]

Traditional party leaders have seen their ability to orchestrate strategy upended as their dominance over campaign money has waned.

As you may have noticed, now Republicans are even turning on each other. Here's what one email from FreedomWorks, a tea party umbrella organization, said:

"This isn't the first time the Establishment betrayed you... That's why you and I must replace the Obama-Republicans with real conservatives…. If we're going to replace them, if we're going to stop Obama, we need you to donate $50, $35, $15 or more right now!"

And fundraising like that is even influencing basic parts of the legislative process, such as when votes take place.

So the next time you hear someone say that the political parties are the same and who you vote for makes no difference, remember which president picked which Supreme Court justices, and how those justices ruled on cases that matter to you, to all of us.

And then remember which party is guilty of extortion and is more concerned with being primaried by tea partiers than it is about the U.S. (and world) economy crashing again.