In 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United, arguing that the right to free speech extends to private companies as well as individuals.
Since the ruling, corporations have been allowed to spend as much as they want on political campaigns.
For the Koch brothers, this has meant an exponential increase in their influence. The brothers themselves are prohibited from giving more than $2500 to a candidate. But now they can have one of their companies donate $millions to a Super PAC that can fund a devastating barrage of attack ads on that candidate’s rivals.
I agree that anything that increases the ability for corporations to influence the political process is bad news. But I was hoping that “Citizen Koch” would demonstrate the harm that the Super PACs are doing and show me why the Koch brothers are the ultimate bogeymen in the eyes of liberals.
Instead, “Citizen Koch” is a boring, hopelessly partisan attack on Scott Walker.
It is true that Scott Walker was elected governor of Wisconsin in 2010 with the support of the Koch brothers and that Governor Walker worked to balance the state budget by limiting the collective bargaining power of public employees.
Walker is a strange enemy to choose, however. The Democrats have several core issues that are popular with the majority of Americans: gay marriage, women’s reproductive freedom, defense of entitlements. But left-wing documentarians Carl Deal and Tia Lessin don’t understand how terribly out of touch the Democratic Party is on the issue of unions.
On one hand, the Democrats steadfastly support the public sector unions that squander our tax money on salaries for bad teachers who can never be fired and on generous pensions for people who retired at age 55.
On the other hand, the Democratic Party hasn’t done anything to help underpaid private sector workers to unionize. Teachers don’t need more powerful unions; McDonald’s and WalMart employees desperately do. But Democrats only fight for the teachers unions because they donate big money to Democrats and WalMart workers making $9 an hour do not.
The film rightly asserts that the Republican Party is heavily influenced by big business. But I don’t see any sign that the Democrats aren’t. I can’t think of a single initiative introduced this century that seriously threatens the power or profits of multi-national corporations or Wall Street.
And it’s worth noting that the Republican base is actively rebelling against the big money establishment. Donald Trump is the GOP front-runner in part because of his rejection of the open borders and free trade that the multi-national corporations love so much.
Meanwhile, the Democratic front-runner is perhaps the most big money friendly candidate in the history of the United States. When it comes to supporting the economic status quo, President Clinton would give Harding and Coolidge a run for their money.
I was all fired up to write a scathing column about how the Koch brothers are destroying democracy with their money. But “Citizen Koch” is so bad that I don’t have the ammunition.