In a letter written to William Elkin less than five months before he was assassinated, Abraham Lincoln made the following statement: "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war."
The war that Lincoln was referring to, of course, was the Civil War, but his statement rings every bit as true today as it did about 150 years ago.
The process has been a slow, steady, insidious one, and a strong case can be made for the fact that our precious democracy has been transformed into a corporatocracy, in which great wealth has been relegated into the hands of a relatively few powerful corporations.
The recent Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court might be looked upon as the final nail in the coffin, in that it has given corporations a free rein to pump hundreds of millions of dollars, anonymously, into the coffers of all elected officials, including judges, who are elected in 39 states. Corporate investments inevitably demand a return, which they are receiving, with interest.
As citizens who value our democracy, we should pay serious attention to Lincoln's admonition that this extreme concentration of money may well result in the destruction of our Republic; there is indeed good reason for each of us to "feel anxiety for the safety of our country."
Theodore J. Voneida, Kent