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Opinion

Ye reap what ye sow in corporation power


  • By Clay Neely
  • |
  • Apr. 07, 2021 - 1:56 PM

Ye reap what ye sow in corporation power

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.

With the Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Game moving from Atlanta over Senate Bill 202, and corporations like Delta and Coca-Cola speaking against the legislation, there’s a lot of Republican anger over the power that corporations wield in American politics.

But this is a clear case of chickens coming home to roost, as the GOP once cheered the Supreme Court ruling almost 11 years ago that paved the way for big business power in politics.

“Ye Reap What Ye Sow,” is a bit of a summary of the Second Book of Kings, Chapter 19, Verse 29. It’s a cautionary tale about how you behave and how it will affect the treatment you’ll receive.

Eleven years ago, the Citizens United v. FEC (Federal Election Commission) was handed down by the Supreme Court, a controversial court ruling. The court’s opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, stated “limiting ‘independent political spending’ from corporations and other groups violates the First Amendment right to free speech.”

“The justices who voted with the majority assumed that independent spending cannot be corrupt and that spending would be transparent,” wrote Tim Lau with the Brennan Center for Justice. “But both assumptions have proven to be incorrect….As a result, corporations can now spend unlimited amounts of funds on campaign advertising if they are not formally ‘coordinating’ with a candidate or political party.”

Initially, conservatives were far more supportive of the ruling, while liberals were opposed to it. That’s because the average Republican citizen assumed that his or her views would naturally coincide with big business. Campaign spending spiked in 2010, a midterm election, even over the 2008 election, a presidential contest, and Democrats lost big time.

But now, Democrats have fared better in presidential and legislative elections since then (with the exception of the 2014 Senate contests). And conservatives are finding that corporations don’t always agree with their views, especially as some on the very far right deviate dramatically from the mainstream, away from the majority of customers, CEOs, and corporate boards.

Polls now show Republicans are waking up to how much the Citizens United hurts the average U.S. citizens. Nearly 80 percent of self-described GOP supporters oppose Citizens United in a survey, much closer to the 83 percent of Democrats who agree. But it’s a different story for the Republican politicians in Washington DC, where only New York Rep. John Katko seemed to have any appetite for serious campaign finance reform last year.

Republicans who aren’t in elected office can now expect corporations to make more decisions that they disagree with. Boycotts make the whole hubris over “Cancel Culture” on the right look pretty hypocritical.

And Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision not to throw out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers game was offset by the packed stadium, showing that the boycott of the MLB is likely to be as ineffective at the boycott of the NFL.

And yes, I have the TV figures and attendance numbers to back this up, countered only by faked pics of empty stadiums sent to me by critics, which turned out to be photos taken several hours before game time.

The only real solution would be to bring back a bipartisan campaign finance reform, the type crafted by Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, which did not outlaw corporate spending, but balanced its power to give citizens a greater chance at having their voices heard.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.