Whether or not you think Citizens United was rightly decided, you have to agree that Anthony Kennedy totally underestimated the affect his ruling would have on our political process. The unfettered influx of money into the process has been ridiculous. Super PACs are openly plotting how they can buy the election, and it’s even worse on the state and local level. Even the mayor of New York is unabashed about using his money to “influence” the election.
The latest negative outcome from the “money is speech”/”corporations are people”/”unleash the oligarchs” decision comes from a boss near you. Citizens United now allows bosses to email you and tell you who to vote for. Your boss, of course, cannot force you to vote for one candidate or the other. But they are free to scare the crap out of you with misinformation and threats….
The New York Times reports on some election memos being sent out by owners of American businesses to their employees:
David A. Siegel, 77, chief executive of Westgate Resorts, a major time-share company, wrote to his 7,000 employees, saying that if Mr. Obama won, the prospect of higher taxes could hurt the company’s future.
“The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job, however, is another four years of the same presidential administration,” Mr. Siegel wrote. “If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current president plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company.”
In an interview, Mr. Siegel said he was not ordering his employees to vote his way. “There’s no way I can pressure anybody,” he said. “I’m not in the voting booth with them.”
Mr. Siegel added: “I really wanted them to know how I felt four more years under President Obama was going to affect them. It would be no different from telling your children: ‘Eat your spinach. It’s good for you.’ ”
Yes, don’t we all love CEOs who think of their 7,000 employees as children — children who will be kicked out of the house and fired if the CEO has to pay one more cent in personal income taxes.
Look, Lord knows that Siegel and rich CEOs everywhere have the right to vote for whoever they want to, for whatever reasons they want to. Go nuts. But when you are lucky enough to have employees, you shouldn’t be allowed to threaten them so that they vote your way. What kind of Tammany Hall, machine politics BS is that?
Messages like the one from Siegel represent a regression in the strength of our democracy. A move from “one man, one vote,” back to the time when the poor couldn’t be easily bullied by machines organized by employers or unions. And the man behind the curtain is Citizens United.
Conservatives are going to support Citizens United and the unfettered mixing of money and politics right now because it helps their guys. But it’s always shortsighted to let the voices of a rich and powerful few drown out or unduly influence the will of the many. Right now, that benefits Romney and his 1% strategy. But eventually, letting rich people do whatever they want will trample on conservative principles as easily as it tramples on progressive ideals.
Here’s a Memo From the Boss: Vote This Way [New York Times]