Americans have always been skeptical of corporate power. In fact, this country was founded by a revolt against the biggest corporation of its day – the British East India Company.
You know how conservatives are always going on about how the Boston Tea Party was an example of the United States’ anti-government roots? Well, the Boston Tea Party was actually an anti-corporate protest, not some 18th century version of an Americans for Tax Reform rally.
When the good citizens of Boston threw chest upon chest of East India tea into the freezing winter water of Boston Harbor, they were protesting a law – the Tea Act of 1773 – that was their era’s version of the bank bailout.
The Tea Act gave the British East India Company total control over the North American tea trade, exempted it from having to pay taxes on exported tea, and gave it a refund on any tea it was unable to sell.
It was the largest corporate tax cut in the history of the world, and set up the East India Company to pull a Walmart and put all the small, local tea shops across the US out of business. Not surprisingly, this really angered the colonists, and so they took action, setting off a chain of events that eventually resulted in our independence from Great Britain.
Skepticism of corporate power is what the American Revolution – or at least the event that sparked it – was all about, which makes the latest polling about money in politics anything but surprising.
According to Bloomberg Politics, a full 78 percent of Americans think we should overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision that opened up our election process to floods of corporate money. This isn’t, by the way, a situation where a bunch of Democrats are tipping the scales.
Money in politics often gets painted in the media as “liberal” or “progressive” issue, but this new Bloomberg poll shows that Americans of all political persuasions overwhelmingly oppose Citizens United. Eighty-three percent of Democrats want to overturn it, as do 80 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of self-declared independents.
In other words, wanting to get money out of politics is about as mainstream as the Super Bowl, blue jeans and FM radio classic rock. Which, again, isn’t all that surprising.
This country’s changed a lot since 1776, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that the American people, regardless of their political party, really don’t like it when corporate special interests take over their government or their election process.
But one thing that has changed since 1776 is the media, now concentrated in the hands of a few giant transnational corporations.
The ever-more-concentrated corporate media really don’t want to discuss Citizens United or the public’s overwhelming desire to overturn it. In fact, even though our TV networks have spent hours breaking down every single Donald Trump poll, they’ve so far completely ignored that amazing Bloomberg study on opposition to Citizens United. And I mean completely ignored.
As Media Matters pointed out the other day, “[T]he major networks’ evening news programs … aired no coverage of the Bloomberg poll between September 28 and October 2. The ABC, FOX and NBC October 4 Sunday shows also failed to report on the poll’s results.”
Maybe there’s a good justifiable, journalistic reason for this. Maybe the fact that Americans hate Citizens United is so obvious that the mainstream media don’t think it was worth reporting on.
But it’s doubtful.
The big open secret about Citizens United is that the mainstream corporate media support it. More money in politics means more money spent on elections ads, which, of course, means more money for the corporations that run the major news networks.
That’s why the media isn’t covering Citizens United – because doing so would cut into their bottom line. It really is that simple.
But luckily, the American people are figuring out what’s up. If the rise of Bernie Sanders is any indication, they’re more than ready to take part in another political revolution against corporate power – just like the one that founded this country 239 years ago.
The mainstream media can continue to ignore what the people want, but at their own peril.
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