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Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, GOP standard bearer (read: standard-lowerer) John McCain annoyingly addressed any gathering of more than one as "my friends." In the second McCain-Obama debate alone, he used the phrase 21 times. Even at a time when millions of Americans were learning how to accumulate anonymous Facebook friends by the thousands, this gambit proved counterproductive, though it did create jobs for the enterprise that peddled "John McCain Is Not My Friend" T-shirts and hoodies.

mitt romney

McCain lost his soul along with the presidency, so one had reason to hope that candidates would lose the bogus "friend" references this time around. But last week, to the delight of Democrats and comedians throughout the land, Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney managed to mash up "my friend" with an even hoarier sound bite. Picking up on the Supreme Court's gargantuan gift to Republican candidates in the 2010 Citizens United decision, the Mittster went all Soylent Green on an Iowa heckler, opining, "Corporations are people, my friend... of course they are." He even out-courted the court, adding, "Human beings, my friend."

While Steven Colbert and the DNC were having their fun, Iowa interloper Sarah Palin -- no fan of Romney's -- backed Mitt with thissilly-gism. And leave it to Republican senator Rand Paul to ratchet up the crazy by telling Think Progress, "All of us are corporations... everybody who has a 401k has parts of corporations, so in a sense we are."

The Romney/Rand reasoning means personhood would accrue not only to corporations but also to armies, baseball teams and dinner parties. (To be consistent, Paul would have to concede that 401K-deprived humans don't pass muster.) Further, corporate mergers would be the equivalent of marriages, and Republicans would push for a Constitutional Amendment to codify once and for all that these transactions are legal only when one male corporation merges with one female.

Joking aside, the impersonal (McCainish) and sarcastic (Romneyesque) appropriation of "friend" and the equivalence of "corporations" and "people" reflect the increasingly money-driven, technological dehumanization of what passes for American democracy in 2011.

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Republished from HuffingtonPost with the author's permission.