You and I may think that the Roberts Court's decision in the McCutcheon case to give obscenely rich people yet another way to buy elections is an affront to American values. But if you're a right-winger, it's a necessary bulwark against the biggest inherent risk of democracy: the possibility that citizens will actually vote.
You have to understand that that prospect terrifies the right. Right-wingers think that voters inevitably vote to give themselves the right to be more and more parasitical, until the moment arrives when society itself is unsustainable. Here's a quote that circulated widely on the right -- or, rather, recirculated, because it was already widely known in conservative circles -- back when Mitt Romney was caught saying nasty things about the 47% (things the quote circulators wholeheartedly believed):
“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy...”If you believe this -- if you believe that the benefit-receiving, hammock-dwelling rabble just vote to take and take and take, heedless of the imminent collapse of civilization that they're bringing about, then of course you want as much money as possible in the electoral system -- it's a counterweight to the sans-culotte barbarians at the gate. Minimizing the impact of universal suffrage is vitally necessary in order to prevent the have-nots from draining the life out of the nation.
Alexander Fraser Tytler, Scottish lawyer and writer, 1770
One way of doing this, of course, is by limiting the franchise. The Nation's Ari Berman is one of many people to see a connection between two impulses of this Court:
The Supreme Court's Ideology: More Money, Less VotingElected Republicans limit the franchise as well, of course, via voter ID laws and voter-roll purges.
In the past four years, under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court has made it far easier to buy an election and far harder to vote in one.
First came the Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which brought us the Super PAC era.
Then came the Court's 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act.
Now we have McCutcheon v. FEC, where the Court, in yet another controversial 5-4 opinion written by Roberts, struck down the limits on how much an individual can contribute to candidates, parties and political action committees. So instead of an individual donor being allowed to give $117,000 to campaigns, parties and PACs in an election cycle (the aggregate limit in 2012), they can now give up to $3.5 million....
This is what you do if you think democracy, left unchecked, will ultimately kill America. And that is what the right believes.