Bill Moyers:

Fortunate for any of us who believe this country should be about fair play and justice, Saru Jayaraman and those waiters, busboys, and cooks reinforce our faith that organized people can counter organized money. But they are going to need all the hope and heart they can muster. So are we.

The fight to save our democracy from the clutches of plutocrats just got harder. Here in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo of the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, and legislators from both parties, killed a commission investigating political corruption and aborted a promising plan for a more level playing field in state elections.

They did so while handing “wealthy individuals in wealthy communities” -- the biggest contributors to elections --some very big tax breaks.

And in Washington, as you’ve heard by now, in the McCutcheon case, the Supreme Court five -- the pro-corporate bloc -- struck down limits on how much money can be given to candidates, parties and political action committees.

One prominent right-winger says the justices merely “reinstated the first amendment for all Americans.” But by doubling down on their earlier ruling in the infamous Citizens United case, which equates money with speech, the justices have decreed that you are entitled to all the free speech you can buy. Just like the Koch brothers.

The prevailing myth in America has been that the rich have a right to buy more homes, More cars, more gizmos, vacations and leisure. But they don’t have the right to buy more democracy. The Supreme Court just laid that myth to rest, and the new gilded age roars in triumph.

But we, the people, should not cower or give in to despair. Those restaurant workers aren't quitting. They have summoned a spirit from deep within our past, when those early insurgents stood against imperial authority. Believing that: When injustice becomes law, defiance becomes duty.

At our website,, we’ll show you some ways you can get involved. And there's more about the fight for a living wage.

That’s all at I’ll see you there and I’ll see you here, next time.

Bill Moyers Essay: ‘McCutcheon’ Means “All the Free Speech You Can Buy”

Two events this week have made the fight to save democracy from big money, already an uphill battle, even harder.

In Washington, DC the Supreme Court struck down overall contribution limits on how much individual donors can give to candidates, parties and PACs. In New York State’s annual budget, Governor Cuomo and legislators killed a commission investigating political corruption, failed to pass campaign finance reform and gave tax breaks to the rich.

In this clip, Bill offers his initial reactions to this week’s events: “The prevailing myth in America has been that the rich have a right to buy more homes, more cars, more gizmos, vacations and leisure. But they don’t have the right to buy more democracy. The Supreme Court has just laid that myth to rest, and the new gilded age roars in triumph.”

“We the people should not cower or give in to despair; those restaurant workers aren’t quitting,” Bill adds, referring to his earlier interview with Saru Jayaraman, who spoke about food workers fighting back to earn a living wage.

Segment Producer: Rob Booth. Editor: Rob Kuhns.

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  • Jon Carry

    No shortage of irony here! Moyers is afraid of other people getting on the Free Speech teat that he has been sucking on for forty years!

  • David Hoyt

    Are you crazy? And why such a snarky cowardly comment? Wow, I cant believe such an ignorant comment. Bill has never paid a dime for free speech. What are you talking about? Are you saying the “left” has been paying for Bill’s “free speech” and that the Right Wing has been forced to be quiet? Is that your point? Because all you did was cast aspersions on an honorable man whose jock you are not worthy to carry.

  • Justin King

    All conservative judges on this one.
    Shows you that American conservatism has caste off democracy for a kleptocratic plutocracy.
    Oligarchy seems to be the striving point in this 21st century, then followed by the inevitable revolution.
    And the circle of power goes on & on.

  • Benjy Franklin

    It’s seems to me that any dogmatic interpretation taken to an extreme always leads to nonsense such as this ; the essential problem is that unbridled power in the hands of an unpeachable few always leads to abusive nonsense like this .

    Seems that around 99% of  the comments about McCutcheon ruling are negative and dire ,
    But I think the implications of this ruling is actually much worse than that for , surprise , 99% of people .

  • Anonymous

    At least now we know that the political system isn’t broken. It’s “fixed”!

  • FDRliberal

    This extremist court will go down as one of the worst since Taney. The 5 right-wing justices, hiding behind a thin veil of absurd libertarian theory, never fail to award the wealthy more power and apparently enjoy putting the heel of their boot on the throat of the American electoral process.

    And Cuomo is simply a disgrace. To compare him to Lieberman would be doing this guy a kindness. Just another faithful and sycophantic servant to the most powerful. He gets away with this because his right-wing tendencies are currently not as well known to NY Democrats as his more socially liberal views.

  • Anonymous

    The founding fathers argument for a Supreme Court holds dear to the idea that all “peoples” are subject to the law of the land and shall be treated equally regardless of “status or creed”.

    And there where the root lays bare at the heart of it all, once you’ve bought the rule of law you have control of our destiny.

    pedro santos

  • Don McMahan

    theoretically the supreme court is non-partisan and outside of politics. this is clearly nonsense so why don’t we all call the “5 conservative justices” what they in fact are, Republicans

  • FDRliberal

    I also refrain from calling them ‘conservative’ as I find them to be right-wing extremists looking to radically change the current order. “Conservative” hardly describes them and the Tea Party they represent.

  • Cliff Reed

    How do you plan on fixing it!

  • Fred Pings

    It seems to me that whenever a SCOTUS decision comes down that any particular group is unhappy with, the name calling starts.
    Perhaps there are many others who see things differently yet not rich contributors who are happy with this.
    Now I’m no Constitutional scholar as I imagine most of those posting here also are not, so I will just ask the question: Is the decision based on the Constitution or rather, are the laws that cover this case Constititional? If so, no problem. If not, but I’m guessing they are, change them.
    Why does this have to break down into class warfare and name calling ala junior high?
    Further, if we are so smart, why does money truly matter in an election? Vote your conscience folks!

  • Fred Pings

    So it stands to reason then that the other 4 are Democrats. Feel better? Considering the current occupant, I sure don’t.

  • Fred Pings

    Not really david, all we have to do is not check our brains at the door to the polling place. Personally, I wish voting was a tad bit more ‘difficult’ . Perhaps only those who really care and put some thought into the process would bother voting.

  • learnercurious1

    “end Human bankruptcy”an idea whose time has come.We will Pay for Free Speech.A vote ,our Souls.We shall continue to receive lip service for Free.

  • Dennis Smith

    Scream from outrage at the recent SC decisions and take to the pulpit and the streets encouraging the people to join together to “fight the Right”. Unfortunately that approach will accomplish little because their is an electorate in America that will not listen to the preacher. They are in lock step with the Right Wing and their Right Wing Supreme Court decisions. Those people actually want a change in America that moves away from Democracy (for others) and Equality. Those people want an America that is divided. Those people are not the majority but they have established control over many government agencies – a movement still in process and a movement that can only be defeated by those people themselves. They are offended by what they see as a decline in values and morality within America and they are determined to take America back to what they envision it should be, or what it “used to be” in their minds. And toward that goal they are destroying the most sacred part of that old America they dream of – (their own) Democracy. Unfortunately, speaking out will do little to no good. It is all up to them.

    Not buying this rant? just wait and see what happens this November. The popular vote won by the Democratic Party, but the Republicans taking control of both houses. And Bill right here encouraging everybody to stand up an fight.

  • JonThomas

    SCOTUS lost all legitimacy after the Bush V. Gore – hanging chad – decision. While not the same exact make-up of this court, that ruling (and it’s coup against the voters of U.S.) caused the situation we see today.

    Yes, while it can be argued that a rich class has always held sway over the country, the roots of the complete Plutocracy take-over happened a few years prior to Bush V. Gore However, since that ruling every aspect of the U.S. Government has been run by a powerful minority in leadership. This Plutocratic power structure, using government, continues to manipulate every aspect of our lives to benefit their own self-interests. This imbalance comes at the very expense to the welfare of the majority.

    This paradigm even allows them to present the blame for the inequity (and iniquity) upon Government… further blinding the eyes of the populous and manipulating voters to act against their own interests.

  • Anonymous

    You see, those who voted for putting our elections up for sale, were purchased, themselves.

    I would love to know what the winning bids were and which one received the highest sale price.

  • Brad Bullock

    There needs to be a cap on all political propaganda, even
    how many ads they can run etc. It needs to be an equal and level playing field. On top there must be truth in advertising installed so false lies can’t be thrown around so haphazard. Natural 3rd party verification before ANY MEDIA form can be made public.

  • Kathi Papaleo

    Ah, Michigan! LOL

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, the candidates are selected by those with the most influence in the political process and too often there isn’t a significant difference between the two parties outside of social issues (which may be the strategy). Obama, Clinton and many Democrats have catered to many of the same corporate interests that are decimating the middle class (e.g., NAFTA and the TPP) as the GOP. They give good campaign rhetoric, then once elected respond primarily to those who cut the large campaign checks. Without a significant change in campaign funding, thinking before voting won’t help much.

  • Anonymous

    My articulations might be slightly different but I’d have to agree there’s little evidence for optimism and substantial evidence for pessimism.

  • John Eadie

    What I cannot believe is, that there are so many Republican nasty trolls on the net. I guess, they have a common schooling somewhere, but it hurts. Because I’m hoping for humanity.

  • FDRliberal

    What’s really a joke is the thin, see-through veil of libertarianism used to cloak these decisions favoring the plutocrats. Using the so-called philosophy of individual freedom in the service of having only a few individuals controlling everything.

    As I said before this extremist court will go down as one of the worst since Taney. All the more reason to not elect Republicans.

  • Don McMahan

    I’d feel better if 5 were democrats

  • Fred Pings

    John: have you read some nasty DEM trolls lately? They are definitely out there. If you don’t see them you’re not paying attention. Just saying’ man, that the problem is bipartisan.

  • Fred Pings

    Oddly enough Jon, the so called hanging chad decision proved out to be correct in spite of your disappointment. Sorry, we don’t always get our way. Millions of people were happy it turned out the way it did.
    Now…all we need to do is get a strong 3rd or 5th party going.

  • Fred Pings

    That’s fine for you, but millions would disagree. We don’t always get our way. That’s life. We deal with it.

  • Fred Pings

    I think you have a myopic view of the Tea Party. They are new to the political scene and are taking so called ‘conservative’ pols out just as much as they are liberals. My view is that they are no different than anyone else who is passionate about what they believe. Are you right and they wrong? Nope, at least I hope not.

  • Fred Pings

    Sadly, that is true. Look at 2012…All of a sudden Romney, whose views almost perfectly mirrored those of Obama, was the front runner in the primary. Huh? Because he got the most media coverage? Once we decide that the best candidate is not necessarily the one with the most yard signs or TV commercials, then we can get money out of the equation.

  • JonThomas

    Actually, if all the ballots were recounted and the “double votes” (where people both punched the holes and also ‘wrote in’ Mr. Gore’s name, showing clear intent but misunderstanding the actual ballot form) were allowed, Gore would have won. Of course many people were happy, but the majority were not.

    This country doesn’t even teach people how to preform their most important civil responsibly. Sad!

    I don’t wish to take the wind from your sails, but personally, I don’t see any other parties starting nationally.

    Just one quick reason… the debates are run by the 2 parties. They’ve already shown their resolve by keeping candidates out of the debates.

    Could a 3rd party start in local elections, then grow nationally? Maybe, but the candidate would have to be privately funded. besides, the plutocrats run the media.

    It could happen, but I’ve seen too much, in my opinion it’s all over – welcome to the Corporatocracy. A system that even the Libertarians won’t like. For living in this country, I hope I’m wrong.

  • FDRliberal

    New? Hardly. The Tea Party is just the latest name for the extreme right wing in the US. Before that the same group was called the Moral Majority, the John Birch Society, Know Nothings, Fire eaters, etc. Same people. And they currently dominate many Republican primaries

  • Norman Morris

    The sad thing about these nasty trolls is, they are do dense, that they have no ideal the rich, who made the tea party possible, are going to drop them like flies after the rich get everything they want.

  • Fred Pings

    Well then. It looks like you answered my other question. It must be an awful burden for you, being right all the time and also having to come with more insults for those with whom you disagree. Enjoy your life on the ‘extreme fat left fringe’ my brother.

  • Fred Pings

    Which is why with social media we can take the money out. Personally, if we could only get the easily fooled masses to look at more than who has the most yard signs and TV commercials, we could move forward. I think instead of making it easier to vote, go back to where someone has to get off their deadcass and stand in line after showing proper ID.
    If someone doesn’t have the gumption to do that, how much effort do you think they put into their decision making process?
    I’ll let you have the last word on the Bush/Gore fiasco.

  • Pam Rieli


    Your closing comment on this show – “When injustice becomes law, defiance becomes duty.” – really hits the nail on the head when describing government corruption.

    All three branches of government are conspiring to eliminate all constitutional rights, while assisting the rich to strengthen the U.S. state of feudalism. U.S. Code (242) requires that government officials who use the law to curtail, infringe upon, or eliminate constitutional freedoms must be imprisoned or executed. The Declaration of Independence says it is the duty of the people to overthrow tyrants and their governments.

    Since we do not have true representation through elected officials, isn’t that proof that U.S. style democracy doesn’t work, and in fact, doesn’t it prove that the USA is not a democracy at all?

    This country was founded on a republic style of government, and practices imperialism, exceptionalism and manifest destiny – not global democracy. How can the U.S. point the finger at other nations for lesser sins that the U.S. is committing?

    It is high time for real patriotism to rise up and dispel the tyrant behind the scene – big biz.

    Ken Rieli

  • John Hepworth

    Dear Bill,
    Yes..….yet another victory for The Divine Right of Fools……and their looney agenda of “Citizens do NOT Interfere ! Merely OBEY !”….
    How has it come about that Melville’s “Moby Dick” has become THE story of our times ???

    Bob Dlyan’s lyric comes to mind “Nobody has to guess that baby can’t be blessed till she sees finally that she’s like all the rest- with her gold, her amphetamine and her pearls.”….OR- for that matter- her multi-billions and her Sad Sack Supreme Court.