Commentary Magazine


Left Meltdown Over the Supreme Court

The Left is doing a lot of hyperventilating over the Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down most of the McCain-Feingold statute. It will forever change politics! Corporate boards will control politics! Much of this hype is overblown and just wrong. The ban on direct corporate giving remains in place so the notion that corporations will control politicians is silly. They — along with labor unions — will simply be able to exercise First Amendment rights. Citizens can ignore the ads just like they ignore newspaper op-eds or the current plethora of third-party advertising.

This is a remarkably sane take by David Indiviglio on the impact of the decision, making the case that there is less “danger” to liberals than they fear. Corporations have learned to give to both sides, for one thing. And of course corporations through PACs already give billions to candidates. (Just as Chuck Schumer.) And remember:

It’s a step forward for free speech. Corporations are groups of individuals, and they should be able to voice their political beliefs without significant barriers. This ruling allows for that. The key thing to remember here is that Americans are also free disagree with, dispute or ignore corporate political ads.

So why is the Left in a frenzy over this? Well, let’s face it: they will need an excuse for the 2010 elections. Better to say they were “swamped by corporate interests” than to say their agenda was rejected. And this is frankly something else for them to talk about in a week when they lost the Massachusetts senate seat and ObamaCare is going down the drain. It is also the ever-so-helpful Obama echo chamber at work. Obama is going nasty-populist so the liberal-media cheerleaders are following suit.

Now, part of what is going on here is the Left’s exaggerated sense of the boldness and deviousness of corporate America. Unlike the caricature painted by the Left and amplified by popular culture, most corporate executives are cautious, controversy-shy and ever aware of the long arm of the government to tax, regulate, and generally make their lives miserable. So I wouldn’t be so sure that corporate America is going to plunge into the political-ad business overnight. For one thing, business isn’t doing so well right now and there is not a lot of cash sitting around. And for another thing, given the political environment, businesses may not need to spend all that much to knock out Obama-philes in Congress. It seems as though ordinary citizens, thinking for themselves, organizing and turning out to vote, are able to do that on their own.