The election is over, the votes have been tallied, we know who won and lost. Now it’s time to get on with the business of governing.

Unfortunately, there is a dark cloud hanging over Election 2010, resulting from the U.S. Supreme Court decision (a close vote of 5 to 4) in January that allows corporate and union money to pour into campaigns without limiting the amount or requiring the disclosure of what individuals or entities are behind the donations.

There is something inherently distasteful about this, just as there is about those oversize direct-mail pieces that appeared in mailboxes bearing vitriolic attacks on competing candidates. Who has money to pay for these attacks? It would be nice to know.

In the best case, the money comes from groups of people organized around an issue. This is to be expected as part of the political process. Problems arise when political action committees are used to convey the messages of private donors or powerful entities whose influence would be limited under normal campaign finance regulations.

This political veil protecting big-ticket donors contradicts the fundamental principles of transparent government, and endangers our democratic process, but the basic idea is nothing new. Corporations by their very nature are impersonal. Although they are now treated as persons under campaign finance law, they are designed to allow individuals with large amounts of capital to act without bearing the full consequences of their actions.

Extending this disembodiment to the political system is a step in the wrong direction.

We list those who do not pay property taxes at annual town meeting; we know how much government employees and retirees are being paid; we can see which individual donated what amount to campaigns. But we cannot now see who is directing money through corporations, and what their interests might be.

In the interest of preserving democracy, and eliminating all reason for suspicion, all nonprofits, associations and other groups, from Greenpeace to the Maine Heritage Policy Center, should list at their Web sites who their donors are. Political secrecy will only add to partisan fighting and resentment, manifested by anger, and by a growing sense that our politics is considered more a football game, with winning being the only end, and less a serious attempt to govern ourselves.

If we are going to play hardball politics, then let’s identify the names behind the numbers.