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dock at sunset

The nightmare began when the court declared that “money is speech.” It was a variation of the old saying that “money talks.” The door opened for many wealthy people to set up and use pseudo tax-exempt non-profit organizations to take part in partisan campaigns. Then that idea spread into the churches. Individuals who wanted to endorse candidates for office funneled money through tax-exempt churches for partisan support, expanding the cash available that was unreportable and unaccountable to public interests. This was all in the name of the First Amendment.

A candidate appeared who had his own wealth, who could go where he wanted, stay where he wanted, and say what he wanted. He lied often, long, and loudly, and captured an extraordinary share of media attention with his outrageous antics, and he didn’t need to raise funds from anyone else in the ordinary course of campaigning. Wealthy people could go elsewhere and spend even more to prop up candidates who would do their bidding and who would be accountable to them personally. The singular wealthy candidate was just another form of “money speaking,” since he could not only use his own resources, but he could use his unusual platform to increase his own resources without needing to answer to anyone else, reveal his conflicts of interest, or follow the customary ethics of transparency and disclosure. His party shielded him from investigation and exposure of foreign entanglements in the hope that they could carry out their own platforms of experimental political change and revolution while he was in charge.

The candidate pretended to be the voice of common men overlooked and ignored by the rapid transformations of global economies. Wealth sought the cheapest labor and the highest rates of return without regard to the public interest where goods were manufactured or where they were sold. His decisions, once he was elected, simply cleared the way for more aggressive domination of the multitudes by moneyed interests. Money continued to talk with a louder voice. Soon it was understood that speech was not free in any form, not in the press, not in electronic media, not in the Internet, who were all controlled by a small concentration of special interests. The old principles of the First Amendment were hollow. Personal freedoms were identified with the freedom to force others to obey the conscience of the person who chooses to discriminate, instead of the freedoms of the person who is the target of discrimination. People with money had the freedom to oppress people without money.

The only Constitutional Amendment that would could not be abrogated in any form was the Second Amendment, and the more weapons and the more powerful weapons that one possessed, the more political power a person had. The resulting condition of a heavily armed population was neither “well-regulated” nor controlled by any police or military force serving the common interest. Private military units and paid bodyguards became the norm for those who could afford them. The random, careless, and accidental use of arms to injure and kill accelerated to become the leading cause of death among all people. People had developed the habit of scapegoating strangers and different ethnic groups; finally they turned on each other, neighbor against neighbor.

Society descended into chaos. The social contract was broken. What began as the security of wealth became the reinstatement of the “law of the jungle,” and life returned to being the “nasty, mean, poor, brutish, and short” life (as Thomas Hobbes had described it) of the “good old days.”

These were thoughts of the middle of the night when the mind entertains what darkness hides. The dream does not have to end this way. The creative mind can move the ending in another direction entirely as the day dawns.