My plane had barely landed in Palermo when I read that Antonin Scalia, one of America’s most infamous Sicilian-Americans, had paved the way for the oligarchs to buy the American government, as the Supreme Court continued to dismantle campaign finance reform in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a decision, in the words of dissenting Justice Breyer, that effectively makes the limit on individual contributions “the number zero.” That mattered little to Chief Justice Roberts, who wrote, “There is no right in our democracy more basic than the right to participate in electing our political leaders” – ignoring the fact that most of us are now less able to participate in a system that facilitates private conversations between people who have money and want legislation and those who make laws and want money. For an example of how that works, see Republican Congressman Dave Camp’s effort to write a tax-reform bill that was loudly acclaimed by the business lobby – until individual businesses noted parts they didn’t like. Suddenly, tax reform is dead and Camp is leaving Congress. Meanwhile, those of us who don’t want to buy the government will be endlessly pressured for donations to stop those who do.
Here in Sicily, where government is assumed to be a wholly owned subsidiary of La Cosa Nostra, President Rosario Crocetta seeks to eradicate corruption and open the government to the people, despite nonstop threats to kill him. The fact that he is an openly gay Catholic must really drive Scalia nuts.