The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is probably a greater catastrophe than the Mass. Senate election. In effect, it allows corporations to put unlimited amounts of cash into influencing elections.
One aspect of the ruling that hasn’t gathered much attention: as far as I can tell, the analysis doesn’t distinguish between domestic and foreign corporations. Not that it would matter much, since a foreign corporation can always establish a domestic subsidiary, or buy an American company: Cities Service, for example, is a unit of PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company. So the ruling allows Hugo Chavez to spend as much money as he wants to helping and harming American politicians. If the Russian, Saudi, and Chinese governments don’t currently have appropriate vehicles for doing so, you can count on it: they soon will.
Nor is this a problem that can be handled by “disclosure.” The ad on TV praising the opponent of the congressman who did something to annoy Hugo Chavez won’t say “Paid for by Hugo Chavez.” It will say “Paid for by Citizens for Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” which in turn will have gotten a contribution from “Americans for Niceness,” which in turn will have gotten a contribution from a lobbyist for a subsidiary of Cities Service that no one has ever heard of.
The United States has a $13 trillion GDP, and total annual campaign spending is on the order of $2 billion. Buying influence on the American government has to be the highest-leverage activity ever invented, and Justice Kennedy and his four accomplices just invited every oligarch and tyrant in the world to play. This is not just a threat to democracy; it’s a threat to sovereignty.
Somehow I doubt this will be mentioned at any Tea Parties. But I’m very afraid.