If the new Supreme court ruling is necessarily all that bad – I feel that in the long and just maybe in the short term it could shed even further light on the influence of money in politics and it could end up being quite positive for Democrats in particular – I can just imagine, given the purported populist anger that dominates US politics currently that campaigns could very easily turn into anti-corporate contests – on the one hand a candidate utilising social media and small donations (like the Obama campaign) versus a campaign that has a big black mark on their record saying “I took x million direct from x company”. With the current arrangement it can be quite easy to not so much hide but obscure sources of campaign $$ through PACs and so forth. In a way, as long as you can still transparently follow the money such a ruling might actually show just how beholden some candidates are. In a way, perhaps the legislation was outdated – it performed an essential democratic role during the times of newspapers and TV newscasts and other one to many information channels but in the many to one to many information world of the internet then perhaps it is far less useful.
Just some thoughts. At the end of the day, as a fan of John Stuart Mill, I like to think that democracy and freedom of speech are compatible and the reaction to this ruling very much suggests that it is not – for all the damage that money does to democracy now, it is still hard for me to deny that the Supreme Court ruling was actually from a constitutional point of view the right one (noting that I am partial to political philosophy and legal philosophy!).
This could well be a boon for Obama in particular – if he can somehow get a Health Bill through with less damage to his reputation and take on the banks then by focusing on the message he put out below, he may well burnish his populist credentials which is something he can no longer ignore even while he tries to move things to a rational centre. It could almost serve as a “see, I told you it was broken (politics)” wedge issue. The cascading constitutional effects may well be of great interest, whether it be an amendment to preclude spending, or perhaps, hoping against hope, a more rational electoral change.
“With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics,” Mr. Obama said. “It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”