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Democracy at risk

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“The very rich are different from you and me.”

“Yes, they have more rights.”

That's how the Supreme Court heard it anyway. The Republican majority on the Court has just ruled that while all Americans are entitled to speak, the very rich are entitled to speak louder and longer. The owner of a chain of newspapers – let's say he's living in Little Rock – is more entitled to express his opinion than is a person who delivers newspapers, the Court said; surely that's what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

(“The very rich are different from you and me.” “Yes, they have more Supreme Court justices.”)

Cheerfully disregarding equity and precedent, the Court held that a government owned by the people cannot restrict campaign spending by corporations owned by a wealthy few. Money is speech, the Court said, and corporations have rights superior to those of individuals. This is hardly what the Founders professed to have in mind. A popularly elected president who's been fighting corporate influence described the decision precisely: “This ruling opens the floodgates for an unlimited amount of special-interest money into our democracy. This ruling strikes at our democracy itself.” A freedom-loving people and their elected representatives will fight back in some way. Exactly how is unclear at the moment.

Cloudy here too

It all seems a little irrelevant after the Supreme Court decision, but the political news in Arkansas is not good either. Soul-wise, these are trying times.

Two members of the Arkansas congressional delegation, Rep. Vic Snyder and Rep. Marion Berry, have announced retirement. Snyder is the jewel of the delegation, as we noted last week. When he's gone, the Second District's representation will almost certainly be worse, maybe a lot worse. Berry's had a decent voting record overall, and you have to like a congressman who smites the drug manufacturers. We could do worse, and well may.

Polls reportedly show the centrist Sen. Blanche Lincoln in trouble. The importance of early polls is easily exaggerated, but voters do seem strangely upset with lawmakers who tried to do them a favor. Lincoln, Snyder and Berry all voted for health-care reform. Until now, we'd thought “no good deed goes unpunished” hyperbole. If Lincoln is defeated, it'll be from the right, not the left. Imagine, if you dare, a Rep. John Boozman moving up to replace Lincoln in the Senate, a Jim Holt succeeding Boozman, a Tim Griffin taking Vic Snyder's place. That's going to hell in the fast lane.

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