Monday, December 12, 2011

America, The Incorporated

Even more ridiculous than the idea that a fertilized human egg is a human being, is that large, amorphous agglomerations of people can form a person. A company, a corporation, an interest group... that these clusters of people, brought together by similarity of thought or by economic necessity, are artificial creations, a form of human breccia, which cannot be construed as having a homogeneous mind and singular being. They are aggregated together from disparate portions of society, and are entities whose existence is totally dependent on human law for definition. They did not arise spontaneously from a primordial ooze, nor were they birthed by some titanic polyglot mother.

This is an important distinction, in that such groups of people in their various forms, believe that somehow their mere existence provides them the same access to rights and privileges that a natural-born person enjoys, namely in the area of freedom of speech, and under that, the ability to influence elections based on their desire for certain outcomes. The absurdity of this notion is lost upon corporate boards and self-important leaders, alike; their belief in the rightness of their cause or business is such that it blinds them to fact.

The Founding Fathers made no provision in the Constitution of the United States for the treatment of corporations or groups as people, save where such were subject to local, state, and federal law. There was no intention to grant them such, either, nor has any great portion of America seen feet to so endow the Constitution with provisions to rectify the situation. If the separation of Church and State was actually outlined in the Bill of Rights to make it clear that it was so, no equivalent need was found to do so in defining to whom the rights and privileges so enumerated were applicable to. It never occurred to the founders to do so, because no one in their right mind would think groups equivalent to men and women.

Now, as transparent as this is, of late our country has seen a burgeoning growth of groups who feel that their existence warrants the same protections as natural-born Americans, to the extent that they should be allowed -- in all save the ability to vote -- to influence elections and the composition of government. And they have had an unlikely ally in their cause, a body that has the power to oversee the application of law to issues revolving around the Constitution: the Supreme Court of the United States. Recent decisions, not the least of which was the celebrate "Citizens United" case, have shown that the current court has lost sight of the protections the document they are pledged to defend contains. They seem to have overlooked the fact that freedom of speech is not a prerogative of groups, only individuals, even if the group speaks as one voice.

This would not be an issue, had a system for elections been worked out that would have worked solely on public funds and provided for equal opportunities for all citizens to partake in the political process. Thanks to the ceding of political power by the electorate to political parties, name only two political parties, those parties, their retainers, and their backers, have managed to enfold the nation in an electoral system that is beholden to private money. Candidates who cannot raise private funds or do not have sufficient personal wealth, stand at a serious disadvantage, making elections a witch's brew of favoritism, patronage, back-stabbing, and power-swapping. This has led to the electorate allowing themselves to be led by the nose by the political parties, to the point of turning each election into a sycophantic whorl of hyperbole, obfuscation, and mud-slinging, rather than a differentiation of candidates based on ability, knowledge, and above all, reasonableness.

So, with the parties firmly entrenched, it is up to the corporations to choose sides and augment party politics with a not-so-subtle avalanche of rhetoric, diversion, and disinformation. A corporation or lobbying group has no desire to see anyone but "their" candidate win, with the tacit understanding that such a candidate will "owe" them for the privilege of their support, even where such understanding cannot be found written down.

With the help of the Supreme Court, the corporations and lobbying groups have managed to put a veneer of legality on their actions, which has further allowed them to manipulate government to ensure any attempt to alter conditions against them is watered down or dismissed outright, under the false pretense of depriving them of their "right" of free speech.

There is one flaw in the argument that such groups have yet to notice, or have paid no heed to, but which bears mentioning, because it cuts to the heart of matter. If it can be said that a group has the right to freedom of speech, and that the group with larger resources and greater power has a greater right to it which cannot be infringed, then I beg to say that there is one group in the United States that trumps all others: Americans. Bound together by the commonality of a nation built upon laws outlined by the Constitution, not unlike any group or corporate entity, over 300 million people are welded together as one unit, have far more wealth and power than individual group or corporation beneath them, and are therefore not subject to the will of such groups. If a corporation can have free speech rights, then the sum total of Americans have such rights in greater abundance, and, as such, have the ability to reject corporate and special interest influence.

When the Founding Fathers built up this nation, they intended American and her citizens to be stronger than any nation or anything that could threaten it, even from within. It is time that we harness that power to put an end to the farcical notion that a company or interest group has an unfettered right to alter the political process in this nation. This nation is built on the idea of one person, one vote, and no group can be allowed to usurp such a right in the name of their own greed or lust for power. Let it then be written in stone, amended to the Constitution itself, that all people may be created equal, but no group may ever consider itself the equal or superior to any American citizen.

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