Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page have concluded in a recent study that democracy has been successfully subverted in the United States. That country, they write, is now an oligarchy.
The American Supreme Court has had a hand in establishing that oligarchy. In the Dred Scott decision of 1857, the court concluded that those whose skin was black were not people. In the Citizens United decision of 2010, the court decided that corporations were people. The consequence, Michael Harris writes, has been that those with more money have more free speech:
As U.S. neo-conservative consultant Arthur Finkelstein has always said, money is important because it determines who gets heard. It was exactly what bothered Thomas Jefferson when he warned against the dangers to American democracy posed by “the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations.”
Stephen Harper tried the same legal gambit back in 2004, when he headed the National Citizens Coalition:
Like his Republican brethren, Harper too went to court to lift spending limits in political campaigns. Like his Republican brethren, he too argued it was a free speech issue and wanted no spending limits on so-called third parties during elections. He went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, where he lost in 2004. The judges decided that setting limits on third-party political contributions during the writ period was not a free speech but a fair play issue.
Now Harper is trying to do legislatively -- through Bill C-23 -- what he could not do legally. The bill's objective is to entrench a Canadian oligarchy. Like his Republican brethren, Harper is looking after the interests of Tom and Daisy Buchanan -- who got away with murder.
On the subject of great literature, I have one footnote. Over the weekend, Alistair MacLeod died. His novel, No Great Mischief, is the finest rendering of Cape Breton and its people that we have.