Constitution 2.0: Money Talks and Bullshit Walks
Ever since five members of the Supreme Court declared the Constitution unconstitutional yesterday morning I’ve been in something of a snit. Along the way, I’ve said a variety of things that struck me as insightful, pithy, even witty. Others, however – bitter, lonely misanthropic types simmering in their own humorless bile – seem to be finding me mostly snarky and cynical.
So here are a few samples. You be the judge. Assuming you’re a corporation with enough spare cash that your opinion matters, that is.
- Early on, my S&R colleague Brian Angliss lamented that this is how democracy dies, or something to that effect. My reply: “From where I sit democracy has been dead for some time. This is more like vandals pulling over the headstone.” See? Wasn’t that clever?
- Another colleague says that the proper response is to raise so much hell over the outrage that our elected officials are shamed into taking action. My response: “Yes, well. This all assumes that Congressweasels are capable of feeling shame.” She allowed that they’d feel shame if we lit a big enough fire under them. Me: “I think their shame tolerance is probably directly proportional to the size of their corporate donations.” I’m standing by it, too.
- “Used to be if you wanted to control the government you had to work through a broker. Now you can just buy Senators straight off the rack.”
- “Hey, I’m a huge William Gibson fan. I just don’t think Neuromancer was intended as a how-to book.”
- To another “democracy is dead” rant: “I’m not sure America is really ready for democracy.” I’ll have more on that eventually, I feel sure.
- Brian, in reply, advocated what I’ll charitably term “forceful action.” And then I said: “Oh, I’m all for that. I guess my point is that this case doesn’t change reality, it merely acknowledges it.” Man, was I on a roll today or what?
- “Maybe now they’ll release a Kindle version of 1984 for Dummies.”
- Finally, a guy on one of my lists raised a question I’d been trying to sidestep all day. To wit: Does this mean a corporation can run for president? After all, it’s a violation of their Constitutional rights to prevent it. So I said: “First things first. Before they can run for president you have to give them the vote. I assume that they’d get a number of votes proportional to their EBIDTA.”
- “How many electoral votes does ExxonMobil have?”
- Also, I was earlier conjecturing that there might be money to be made in combining erectile dysfunction drugs with antibiotics. Call it “Cialicillen.” At the time I was goofing on another subject entirely, but the more I think about it, the more I think it may apply here. I’m still working on it.
What Would Hunter Do?
In any case, I’ve been saying for years that America’s left/right divide is in some ways a myth, a well-constructed, brutally cynical divide-and-conquer strategy by which The Haves hold The Have-Nots at bay and transform themselves into Have-Mores (or, ideally, Have-Goddamned-Everythings). In my eulogy for Hunter Thompson, for instance, I argued that much of his relentless campaigning for social justice emanated from this insight:
Although I never heard him say it in these words, Hunter S. Thompson I think understood the artificial Red/Blue, Conservative/Liberal divide that most Americans seem to have bought into for the cynical construction that it is -“ a rhetorical fluff job that turns Americans with common cause against each other and that serves the power elites in both parties to the detriment of the public they take turns fleecing.
There was a divide, in Thompson’s world – no doubt about that – but it wasn’t Left/Right, it was Top/Bottom. He was a working man born in the borderlands of the rapidly (and sometimes violently) evolving mid-century South, and his reporting reflects an unfailing empathy for those who spent most of their lives scrambling for a foothold on the lower rungs of the political and economic ladder. The rich and powerful were usually cast as evil, soulless swine, and his sense of social and moral justice provided countless column inches to individuals and groups who’d been ignored or silenced by a society that cared way more about money than justice.
In short, Hunter Thompson was a champion of the common people. Yes, his reporting was so crazed at times that you couldn’t be sure if you were reading an eyewitness account or a drug-addled hallucination. But he remained to the end one of the most unswervingly ethical reporters of our generation, a man whose commitment to social justice and the public good trumped everything.
So today looks like a landmark moment for the architects of The Have-Mores’ neo-serfdom project, and it’s the kind of day where I miss HST more than I can adequately articulate. Wait – did I say “I”? We. We miss him more than we know, and if you don’t realize it yet, wait a few months. Because now the ankle-irons are off our corporations, and that includes the media megacorps. If you think truth is being bought and sold like fake boobs in Beverly Hills now, wait until Campaign 2012. Bitches, you ain’t seen dick yet. Give it five years and CBS will be auctioning Evening News coverage off on eBay. You’re going to reflect fondly on the hard-hitting, good-old days when Katie Couric wielded her righteousness like god’s own objective flaming sword of justice. (As a side note, is “Supreme Court ruling could boost TV ad business” the most hysterically, pointlessly obvious well-fucking-duh headline since “Sun rises in east” or what?)
Yesterday afternoon, Wendy Redal suggested that perhaps this represents a moment when all the Have-Nots, Democrat, Republican and Independent alike, can find a bit of common cause. Maybe, and if so it will be the strangest set of bedfellows since the last time David Vitter had a sleepover and invited Ted Haggard and Dennis Rodman. But I guess you gotta have hope – the way it looks right now there’s nothing left but hope.
As Lex, another S&R buddy, recently said, money talks and bullshit walks. And anything that ain’t money is bullshit.
Look. It says so, right there in the Constitution.