In the recent Delaware Senate debate broadcast nationally by CNN, Republican Christine O'Donnell had a "Sarah Palin moment" when asked to name which recent Supreme Court opinion she most objected to. "Oh gosh, um, give me a specific one, I'm sorry," she responded to correspondent Nancy Karibjanian.
"Actually, I can't," Karibjanian explained, "because I need you to tell me which ones you object to." When prompted by Wolf Blitzer, who commented "We know that you disagree with Roe v. Wade," O'Donnell responded, "Yeah but she said a recent one." Gaining a bit of steam, O'Donnell went on "Oh, there are several when it comes to pornography, when it comes to court decisions -- not to Supreme Court, but federal court decisions to give terrorists Mirandize rights [sic]. There are a lot of things I believe . . ."
(O'Donnell promised that she would put her answer up on her website; as of October 29, 2010 she has yet to do so.)
Up until recently, I had always thought that the absolute nadir in Supreme Court history was its 1857 ruling in Dred Scott v Sanford. (Just as a quick reminder the court, by a vote of 7-2, ruled that people of African descent who had been imported to the United States and held as slaves -- and this included their descendants, whether slave or not -- were not protected by the Constitution and therefore could never become U.S. citizens. It also ruled, among other things that because slaves were not citizens, they could not sue in court. This foul-spirited decision would ultimately lead to passage of the 14th Amendment which, ironically, Christine O'Donnell and many of her Tea Party supporters want to see overturned.
Indeed, for more years than I care to remember, the Dred Scott Decision was the worst, most horrendous decision in Court history. But then came January 2010: the landmark Citizens United case -- Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010) -- in which the Court by a 5-4 margin, held that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment, for the "simple" reason that corporations are like people, and thus covered by the same constitutional protections. It took the Civil War -- the bloodiest conflict in which we have ever participated -- to essentially nullify Dred Scott. (Legally, it has yet to be overturned). One wonders if there is any power on earth that might one day lead to the nullification of Citizens United, the single-worst and most dangerous decision the Court has ever made. For in giving corporations and anonymous "civic-minded" mega-billionaires the legal right to deluge the political system with dollars, they have hastened the transition of America from a capitalist to a corporatist state. And unless I have totally misunderstood my reading of history, corporate control of the state is a pillar of fascism . . .
If this were a time of greater sanity and less anger; of heightened enlightenment and diminished mulishness; if we could respond to the challenges of modernity more like lions and less like lemmings, then perhaps the 2010 election would lead to the dismemberment -- if not the outright nullification -- of Citizens United. For what have all those billions spent by a relative handful of corporations and mega-billionaires bought this election cycle? What is it that their chosen candidates support; what do they believe; what are these anonymous corporations and billionaires seeking?
First, what do these candidates support?
An end to legal abortion in any and all cases -- even when the pregnancy is caused by rape or incest, or the health of the mother is at stake. "I know good friends who are the product of rape," proclaimed Glen Urquhart, a Republican/Tea Party candidate for the House from Delaware.
An end to estate taxes, which do not kick in unless and until an estate is in excess of $3.5 million. Statistically, this does not affect 99.8% of the people.
- Abolishing the I.R.S. and federal income taxes and replacing them with a national sales tax -- something which hits poor people far harder than those with millions.
- An end to Social Security ("a gigantic Ponzi scheme"), the minimum wage, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance. Alaska Republican/Tea Party candidate Joe Miller claims that the latter is unconstitutional; Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle claims that it has "caused a spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job."
- Replacing public schools with charter schools, and outlawing the teaching of Evolution. First on their educational agenda is the elimination of the federal Department of Education. Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck tells voters on the campaign circuit that "In the 1950s, we had the best schools in the world, and the United States government decided to get more involved in federal education . . . and ever since education has gotten worse."
- Eliminating all regulations that impinge on the ability of corporations to make money.
What do they believe?
Americans are overtaxed and over regulated.
The Federal Government should stay out of our businesses, our schools and our pocketbooks . . . but not our bedrooms or operating rooms.
The two guiding principles by which all decisions should be made are the Bible and the Constitution. In the latter case, one candidate, Republican Keith Rolfus (4th CD in PA) has flatly stated, "Congress' ultimate weapon is funding. If the Supreme Court rules you have to do something, we'll just take away funding for it." Or, as Christine O'Donnell (who actually wanted to know "where in the Constitution does it say that church and state are separate?") has stated, "The Constitution is the solution."
"Real Americans" are becoming an endangered species due to all of the illegal immigrants, many of whom come here just to have babies who, according to the 14th Amendment automatically become citizens. Texas Republican Louie Gohmert believes that many women come to this country with unborn babies who are "pre-programmed to blow things up in fifteen or twenty years from now."
The 17th Amendment (which permits direct election of U.S. Senators) should be repealed, because it was, in the words of Utah Republican/Tea Party candidate Mike Lee, "a mistake."
America is on the verge of being taken over by either the United Nations, China, the Illuminati, the Communists, or the Muslims -- take your pick.
According to the new health care law, anyone who does not purchase insurance will be fined $20,000 and sent to prison.
The Federal Government is about to take away everyone's guns. The fact that in its first 22 months, the Obama Administration has done virtually nothing to limit or restrict gun ownership "only goes to prove that they are about to take them away."
Anti-bullying programs are nothing more than another part of the pro-homosexual agenda which pervades the current administration.
And on and on and on. Because of all the money (more than $4.2 billion this campaign season), we are being even more inundated with negative print ads, commercials and robo calls. To read, hear or view these ads one cannot help but conclude that if even one-quarter of what they say is true, each and every candidate in America should be behind bars for the rest of their lives.
One would hope that with all this, we would come to our senses and demand that Citizens United be overturned -- either through rigorous campaign finance legislation, or through the more patient expedient of replacing the current court with one that will have the guts and sanity to do it for us. For unless or until the current situation is reversed, our politics -- along with our government and our very way of life -- is going to be governed by the very wealthy whose theme song is an updated version of "What's good for General Motors is good for the U.S.A."
I long for a return to the day when Dred Scott will once again be the worst decision the Supreme Court ever made.
You got all that down Ms. O'Donnell?
©2010 Kurt F. Stone