The US Supreme Court has just ruled that in the interest of freedom of speech, corporations ought to be allowed to make unlimited donations to political campaigns. The Court also ruled that corporations should not be prohibited from directly sponsoring political advertisements.

The implications of this ruling effectively ends what integrity might have remained in the electoral process. Despite our high-minded ideals about the process, elections are decided on television. The candidate who spends the most on advertisements is usually the candidate who wins. With this ruling, corporations can now easily buy members of Congress by pouring millions of dollars into election campaigns. They can fund the ads of their chosen candidates and directly buy ads themselves to attack their opponents. Any candidate who plans to work for the people, rather than the corporatocracy, can expect to lose as their opponents are flush with cash, and countless expensive attack ads are aired against them. Imagine a Goldman Sachs or Citigroup sponsored smear campaign against Ron Paul. It could even be paid for with bailout money!

The most disturbing part of this ruling is in the understanding that corporations are not citizens of any given country, but businesses with offices in different places. What is to stop Russia’s Gazprom or a Chinese lead mining/toy manufacturing conglomerate from buying a P.O. Box in Delaware, and then showering an obscure candidate from a small state with millions of dollars for their election campaign? Once elected, that congressman would be expected to vote a certain way on a certain bill or even introduce new legislation on house floor.

Given the influence of big money on campaigns, elections have been corrupt for a long time. Only a certain breed of highly corrupt candidate has been able to raise enough money to buy enough ads to win. However, with the contribution limits and ban on foreign donations, the occasional populist could still find a way to compete by raising money directly from the people. No more. Corporations are only interested in maximizing profits, in fact, they are legally required to do so. If a change in the law will allow them to make billions, they will certainly spend whatever it takes to enact such a change. Its nothing personal. If they need to take action-y to achieve outcome-x, and x is greater than y, they’ll do x every time.
Its just about the numbers.

By allowing corporations to contribute unlimited amounts of money to campaigns, they will be able to pick and choose which candidates win elections, effectively buying up the US Congress. The power of Congress, including the ability to declare war, is now available to the highest bidder. The interesting thing will be to see which companies and which countries wind up owning it.