The recent decision by the Supreme Court to allow corporations the ability to openly fund political candidates seems to usher in what Alexander Tytler described as the final stages of the fall of Democracy. Tytler, a Scottish history professor living between 1747 and 1813, wrote a paper titled, “Downfall of Democracies” siting his research of democracies from Athens and Rome through his time. Quotes paraphrasing his work have popped up all over the internet for the last decade bestowing the fall of our democracy due to everything from our lack of spirituality, to the “liberal” expansion of government. The unverified quote often attributed to Tytler is this: “A democracy will continue to exist up until the voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority will always vote 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, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.” Up until the Supreme Court gave free-reign to corporations to openly finance political campaigns, I believed we had something that other failed democracies didn’t have, namely the historical research of people like Tytler telling us what we need to watch out for.
Not everyone learns from history, it seems. Modern corporations take voting themselves “generous gifts” several steps further, not only bleeding the treasury dry, but all of the nation’s resources, natural and human, plus seeking the unfettered right to pollute in single-minded search for profits (which they, through no fault of their own, are designed to do). These actions not only put our democracy in jeopardy, but all of humanity in danger. Corporations are not people. They do not have the ability to fairly judge their needs within a community of others.