Ok, so, I get both the legal and the substantive beefs people have with Citizens United. I’m basically a “political speech? well, bugger off” sort of guy, so all this business about whether corporations are +3 paladins or whatever just doesn’t interest me, but I understand the arguments. Bracketing all that, though, if you really think this is a death knell for democracy… why do you even believe in democracy? The status quo is that corporations influence politics by straight bribery, thinly concealed by various means. The CU ruling means that, alternatively or additionally, they can throw money at making some kind of explicit argument on the teevee. In our sad flawed little world, the bigger megaphone means they have more influence than some dude in Hyde Park who might have a better argument. But if that wrecks democracy, then democracy has no justificatory value at all. You have to pick.
On the one hand, maybe for all our folly we’re basically engaged enough—or the people who decide to vote are engaged enough—that we can sift through the media maelstrom and figure out, on average, whose principles, character, and record best represent our community. On the other hand, maybe we’re a bunch of chimps who will vote for the shiny thing. I incline toward the latter, but I’ve never been all that big on the intrinsic virtues of democracy. I just have trouble wrapping my head around the view that combines these two beliefs: (1) The wisdom of the people, on the whole, justifies not just the installation of Candidate A over Candidate B, but a whole array of coercive state policies, and also (2) We’re really easily led, and will sell our firstborn to Altria if a slick ad says to. It seems strange for both those things to be true.