EDITORIAL: Corporations are People and The Earth is the Center of the Universe

Citizens in a few select states are being inundated by advertisements and phone contacts (many of them robo-calls) on behalf of Presidential candidates.  Florida is one of those states.  They are called battleground states because the polls indicate that neither candidate has a significant lead – so there is a battle for voters’ support.  Others include Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and Pennsylvania, although it appears Pennsylvania may soon see fewer ads, being out of reach for one of the candidates.  Florida, however, will likely remain a battleground state until Election Day – November 6.  Lucky us!

This year’s presidential campaign is predicted to feature more spending than any other in the nation’s history, and the unprecedented spending is being focused only in those states were the vote will actually be close.  Other states, where either  candidate has a sizable lead are largely uncontested – New York, California, Texas, Alaska.  So, not only is more money being spent to persuade Americans to vote for President Obama or Governor Romney, as a Floridian, vast sums are being spent to persuade you – and you specifically.

Florida has been a battleground state for several cycles now. Some may remember the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush, an election that was so close that Bush had to be declared the winner by the Supreme Court — not the actual vote count.  Subsequent Presidential elections have also been very close in Florida, and vast amounts of money have been spent by rival candidates and political parties.   Added to the mix this year will be unlimited sums spent by corporations, as allowed by the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case.

So, a close election, with huge expenditures, avalanches of commercials, scary ads, robo-calls, and all the other noxious emissions of contemporary politics is nothing new – especially for the Sunshine State.  What is new, however, are certain remarkable claims that appear to have gotten into the cultural atmosphere and for many are accepted as statements of fact if not statements of Truth.  These claims have relatively wide acceptance, an even wider influence, and yet they are fictions, falsehoods, fallacies – or worse.

Notable among the claims are these: Corporations are People, Government Should be Run Like A Business, The Rich are Job Creators, and Climate Change is a Hoax.

None of these claims appears to be a major campaign issue.  If they come up at all, they surface on the periphery of other issues.  We should pay attention to these claims, however, because they are in our cultural atmosphere, and discussions, debates, arguments, and the battles of battleground states are profoundly influenced by them, even if they remain largely invisible – like the atmosphere.

Despite their general invisibility, these claims possess enormous cultural power, and will clearly influence the 2012 presidential election – and plenty of other elections throughout the nation and in our state.  As noted above, we identify them as problematic at best, and dangerous at worst.   Generously, they might be counted as legal fictions (like corporations being persons), falsehoods (like climate change being a hoax), or simple fallacies (like government having to be run like a business).

Of greater concern, however, is these fictions, falsehoods, and fallacies have become something far more dangerous and toxic to the cultural atmosphere we share.  They have become articles of faith.  As such they are no more true than medieval claims that the earth was the center of the universe.  Like that now rejected claim, however, as a matter of faith for millions and millions of people they determine values, meaning, purpose, and action.  They also may determine the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.


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