"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance"

--James Madison--

"The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries, but between authoritarians and libertarians"

--George Orwell--

It Does Matter

First posted at The Smirking Chimp, February 1, 2010

It does matter who is in the White House.
It does matter which party he belongs to.
I hear otherwise every day here. "Republicans and Democrats are no different". "Bought and paid for by the same corporate masters".
The only problem with those assertions is that they are wrong. It is hard to analyze the differences between parties and politicians much of the time, since there is so much going on. Yes, campaign contributions come from big business as well as from individual donors. Yes, one party ends up incorporating proposals from the other party to get bills passed.
But the two parties are different. Yes, they are. You may not like either of them, and that's fine. Go out and start one of your own, or just stay at home and bitch about it while doing nothing. Fine.
But, if both parties are bought and paid for by the same corporate masters, then why don't Democratic Presidents give them their money's worth? Why do the Republicans consistently deliver for big business, but Democrats frequently turn around and stab their masters in the back?

I know. You're thinking "WTF is he talking about"?
I'm talking about Supreme Court appointments.
Last month, in a 5-4 decision, the SCOTUS decided that corporations are entitled to make unlimited campaign contributions. The five who decided were all appointed by Republican Presidents.
Three of the four dissenters were appointed by Democratic Presidents. The fourth, John Paul Stevens, was appointed by Gerald Ford, easily the most moderate Republican since Ike, maybe even since TR.
The Republican appointees (other than Stevens, of course) all held that corporations were entitled to "free speech" even past the protections granted to individuals. The three Democratic appointees all dissented, arguing that, not only were corporations not entitled to the same protections, but that money did not necessarily equate to speech in the first place (they were trying to give a leg up to future campaign finance legislation).
The five who prevailed:
Chief Justice John Roberts--A Bush Jr appointee. At 55 years old, he is the third youngest Chief Justice ever, and the youngest since the early 19th century. He looks healthy. He probably has several more decades of judicial damage left in him.
Antonin Scalia--A Bush Sr appointee. At least he's almost 74. By the way, he's the oldest of the Republican appointees, and the only one that Obama is likely to get a shot at replacing. Under Bush Jr, his son, David, was Chief Litigator for the Department of Labor. He was the only Chief Litigator ever to exclusively pursue cases against employees. He never brought a single action against an employer. Fascism seems to run in the family.
Clarence Thomas--Another Bush Sr man. 61 years old, but looks older. Possibly the most extreme right winger in SCOTUS history.
Samuel Alito--Bush Jr. About to turn 60. Once ruled in favor of private ownership of machine guns.
Anthony Kennedy--Reagan appointee. Also 73. Allegedly a "swing vote", he consistently sides with RATS (Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia).
The four dissenters:
John Paul Stevens--Gerald Ford's only Supreme Court appointment turned out to be more liberal than anyone expected. He is probably the most consistent liberal voice on the court. But he's almost 90.
Stephen Breyer--Clinton appointee. Leans liberal most of the time, but has been known to side with conservatives on some issues. 71 years old.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg--Clinton's other appointee. Probably the second most reliably liberal vote after Stevens. Looks kind of like an older version of Judge Judy. Almost 77, and apparently in poor health.
Sonia Sotomayor--Obama's only appointment so far. Her appellate record is pretty liberal. Obviously, she came down on the liberal side in this decision. 55 years old, and looks pretty healthy.
Note that, in four years, Bush Sr made three SCOTUS appointments, two of them quite damaging for a long time, due to their ideologies and ages (especially Thomas, who was 43 at the time of his appointment). In eight years, Clinton was only able to make two appointments. Bush Jr also made two appointments, both young and authoritarian.
Our current President may easily get two more SCOTUS appointments by the end of his first term. Unfortunately, the two most likely to be replaced (Stevens and Ginsburg) are already on the "liberal wing" of the court, so there is little opportunity to change the balance between now and 2012. But the four years after that may well see the replacement of Scalia and Kennedy. Perhaps Breyer as well. Of course, you never know who might just drop dead of a heart attack or something. Just like you never know who might live to be 90 and refuse to retire.
Whoever is President in 2013 will likely have the chance to either change the balance of the court, or to make it more firmly authoritarian and corporate-friendly.
You may continue thinking that it doesn't matter, despite the consistent results of Democratic appointees ruling against corporate interests and in favor of actual constitutional rights. You may continue to believe that there is no difference between the two major parties. That both are owned by the same corporate masters.
But if that is true, then why do only the Republicans give them their money's worth?