Little Did I Know
Yesterday, I insisted that America should keep the democracy and health care conversations separate. In the post, I urged Democrats to pass the health care reform bill because it is the right thing to do, concluding “let’s save the democracy conversation for another day — as in, tomorrow.” Little did I know that president Obama, in his weekly address, would in fact bring democracy to the nation’s attention the very next day!
Earlier this week, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court decided to allow corporations and unions to use their own money to create campaign ads supporting or opposing candidates for president and congress. (The decision can only mean one thing: corporate rule. We are already teetering on the precipice; this would put us over the edge.) Although Obama has not shown strong leadership on health care or the banks, his words this morning were a refreshing sign that he does get it ; that he does recognize the link between economic equality and democracy.
Here is a synopsis of Obama’s speech, courtesy of the Huffington Post (where video of the entire speech is also available):
“This ruling opens the floodgates for an unlimited amount of special interest money into our democracy,” the president said in his weekly radio and Internet message. “It gives the special interest lobbyists new leverage to spend millions on advertising to persuade elected officials to vote their way — or to punish those who don’t.”
Obama said that means public servants who stand up to Wall Street banks, oil companies, health insurers and other powerful interests could find themselves under attack when election time rolls around.
“I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest,” he said. “The last thing we need to do is hand more influence to the lobbyists in Washington or more power to the special interests to tip the outcome of elections.”
There are some fine populist rhetorical flourishes here. Let’s hope, however, that this is more than rhetoric; that Obama is prepared to stand up to Wall Street and other moneyed interests — before it’s too late.
For more on the decision, see this highly informative and insightful post by John Medaille.