When the Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United ruling January 21, 2010 that cleared the way for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of cash in political campaigns with very little transparency, it even prompted the President of the United States, Barack Obama, to mention it in his State of the Union address. It elicited the childish, “nuh uh” look and utterance from Justice Alito — that instead of sparking a debate about the decision, made the media pontificate about whether it was appropriate for the President to mention the ruling and whether Alito’s response was appropriate. To me it signaled that the President really does care about the influence money has in our politics.
Now I know the haters on the left and right will trot out the old, President Obama has gotten a lot of money from big business meme, but when you look at what they base it on, it’s people who work for big business who are giving to President Obama. And yes, some of the leaders of business as well. And in their criticism lies an assumption that everyone who works for a big business is conservative and/or Republican. And that those employees, being all conservative, must be giving to President or candidate Obama because he is conservative too or that they are buying influence with him. They opine that anyone with money must be conservative and therefore if they give to a Democrat, then Democrats must be just like Republicans. It’s quite a twisted line of reasoning when you break it down. It’s just one example of the simplistic logic that permeates our media and punditry.
I had a real world example in my family. My step father was a successful lawyer and businessman, yet he donated to and voted for Democrats all his life. He also was a philanthropist and gave a lot of his money to many different causes and was modest in how he spent money. I go back to a recent post where I derided the concept of generalizing, where it is so much easier for people to just lump everyone together and attack that lump, instead of deal with real people with varying opinions. The same holds true for those who want to vilify everyone who works on Wall Street or for an evil corporation.