The essential problem is that the legal infrastructure supporting globalization ensures foreign capital and the foreign corporations and sovereign states that control large accumulations of it need recognize no borders, and owe no ultimate allegiance to any nation-state. All a foreign government or company need do to begin buying public policy wholesale in the United States is incorporate in any U.S. state or territory and use that legal personality to buy influence in our political discourse without any significant limits.
Due to America’s overwhelming importance to the global economy and security, the rewards for investing in the purchase of American policy, and policy-makers, are irresistibly vast. The best investment returns available anywhere in the world in any market sector is control of American policy regarding your targeted market. The inestimable value of political influence over US governments ensures that global capitalists will quickly develop the expertise to quietly and anonymously (to the general public) influence American politics through ownership or partnerships with U.S. corporate personalities and principals.
There are some legal bars to direct contributions to candidates by foreign-owned corporations, but that is not where the real power of Citizens United lies: it lies in independent expenditures. And there is no legal bar to a foreign owned, controlled, or subsidary corporation incorporated in any of the United States from unlimited spending from their treasuries to influence public policy and elections through independent expenditures.
Could Congress create new law to try to rectify foreign access to our political process? Perhaps. But doing so skirts an area of First Amendment law wherein the current Court has decided to be agressively activist. Will Congress risk it? Will the Court allow it? These are unknowns, and in our system, unknowns generate inaction.
Citizen’s United threatens in the long run to create a government not just ‘of the corporations, by the corporation, and for the corporations’, but to create a locus of American political power that is even further from the actual citizens of America and wholly beholden to globalized capital and corporations whose fundamental interests do not align with that of the United States of America, let alone the citizens of America. We will end up with a system of representation without taxation, and that ultimately spells doom for the rights and well-being of the real people who live here.