Former President Jimmy Carter called the current United States political system an "oligarchy" that benefits big-money campaign donors in an interview with left-leaning talk show post Thom Hartmann last week.
Carter was responding to a question the former Air America host asked about a Supreme Court decision when making the comments. The decision under discussion, 2010's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
, ended limits on what companies and unions could spend on political campaigns.
"[Citizens United] violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system," Carter said. "Now it's just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members.
"So now we've just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election's over," Carter continued, according to The Intercept
. "The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody's who's already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who's just a challenger."
The comments were hardly the first time Carter, who served as president from 1977 to 1980, has criticized the Citizens United case. In 2012, he called the 5-4 Supreme Court decision "damaging," according to The Hill
"I think the most stupid decision that the Supreme Court ever made and one of the most damaging was to rule that corporations are people and that major corporations now can give unlimited supplies of money to candidates," Carter said then.
"I don't think either very wealthy people or corporations or unions. I'd like for it to go back to the way it was five or six years ago," Carter stated.
Carter, who is currently promoting his latest book "A Full Life, Reflections at Ninety," was given a Nobel Peace Prize for his human rights work in 2002. He held a book signing in Austin this weekend, according to KXAN-TV
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