Senator John McCain, of McCain-Feingold-demolished-by-Citizens-United fame, sat down with Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour for a fairly wide-ranging interview. It gave him plenty of time to show corporate legislators of both parties some old school conservatism when he said, to say that corporations are people, again, flies in the face of all the traditional Supreme Court decisions that we have made — that have been made in the past.
Overturning Citizens United only seems like a left-of-center position because wealthy corporations derive the most benefit from the Citizens United ruling and have more influence with the Republican Party than the Democratic Party, though not by much. But the odd marriage of social conservatives with their corporate and military counterparts is being tested more than at any time in modern history.
This issue separates the corporate apologists from the true conservative patriots, who are happy to level the playing field as long as unions have to play by the same rules. Corporate apologists want to destroy unions. Patriotic conservatives are in unions, from law enforcement to transportation and construction. Let’s set aside our differences on the outcomes we desire and come together to ensure that none of our American voices are drowned out by powerful associations, no matter what form they take.
The relevant portion of the interview begins near the end at 7:28.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Final question, Senator, about campaign money.
You have long been passionate about the idea of restricting the amount of money that flows in campaigns.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: Yes.
JW: But in the wake of the Supreme Court decision Citizens United, we are seeing enormous sums of money going into this campaign, to the campaigns themselves, to outside supporters. Is this — is it just inevitable that we’re now in a period where money is going to be playing this dominant role in American politics?
SJM: I’m afraid, at least for the time being, that’s going to be the case, because of the most misguided, naive, uninformed, egregious decision of the United States Supreme Court I think in the 21st century. To somehow view money as not having an effect on election, a corrupting effect on election, flies in the face of reality. I just wish one of them had run for county sheriff. So what we are…
JW: You mean one of the justices?
SJM: One of the five Supreme Court justices that voted to invalidate what we know of as McCain-Feingold. Look, I guarantee you, Judy, there will be scandals. There is too much money washing around political campaigns today. And it will take scandals, and then maybe we can have the Supreme Court go back and revisit this issue. Remember, the Supreme Court rules on constitutionality. So just passing another law doesn’t get it. So I’m afraid we’re in for a very bleak period in American politics. You know, we all talk about — and you just did — about how much money is in the presidential campaign. Suppose there’s a Senate campaign in a small state, and 10 people get together and decided to contribute $10 million each. You think that wouldn’t affect that Senate campaign?
JW: This question of campaign money highlighted today by this — the announcement that there’s a huge amount of money coming in from one donor in the state of Nevada.
SJM: Mr. Adelson, who gave large amounts of money to the Gingrich campaign. And much of Mr. Adelson’s casino profits that go to him come from this casino in Macau.
JW: Which says what?
SJM: Which says that, obviously, maybe in a roundabout way, foreign money is coming into an American campaign — political campaigns.
JW: Because of the profits at the casinos in Macau?
SJM: Yes. That is a great deal of money. And, again, we need a level playing field and we need to go back to the realization that Teddy Roosevelt had that we have to have a limit on the flow of money, and that corporations are not people. That’s why we have different laws that govern corporations than govern individual citizens. And so to say that corporations are people, again, flies in the face of all the traditional Supreme Court decisions that we have made — that have been made in the past.
JW: Sen. John McCain, we thank you for talking with us.
SJM: It’s nice to be with you again.
You can read the full transcript here.