I hope I can do this and get it posted…my favorite rant!
Until we see sweeping CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM in our Congress, we will see no significant or substantial legislation passed that will benefit the average American over the big corporations. Our lawmakers have been bought and paid for by the lobbyists from K Street. Millions upon millions have been paid to our esteemed Congress members to assure that their votes will suit the corporations and the banks.
And it’s only going to get worse. I have heard no news lately of the case that is now before the SCOTUS involving the “free speech” rights of corporations. If the high court rules as expected on this case, corporations will be allowed to donate DIRECTLY to political campaigns and control the outcomes of the elections. The corporation with the deepest pockets will choose our leaders for us. Our votes will be even more meaningless than they are now. They will be able to run aggressive ad campaigns, either for or against a candidate and shape public opinion.
If there is any doubt about the effects of an aggressive ad campaign, just look at what the insurance lobby has done to the health care debate this fall. They have run ads designed to scare the wits out of our seniors…and they have been quite successful. The outright lies and distortions have been stunning.
In searching for a good definition of “fascism”, I found that definition to include “collusion between big business and government”. I would suggest that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…we must call it for what it is..FASCISM!
The American people are sleeping. It’s way past time for us to wake up! If we do not, our experiment in democracy will go down in the history books as just that…an experiment that didn’t work!
Excellent post, Emerald. I’ve never watched any legislative process as closely as I’ve watched the health care debate. And the number one point that has emerged about the process is that it has been hijacked by lobbyists. Our representatives are not ours — they only pretend to be.
Perfect rant Emerald. There is definitely a severe disconnect when there are statistics like this;
The United States leads the WORLD in BILLIONAIRES, with 360. Canada and Germany are tied for second place with 54.
And of course, we all know that the United States places 37 in healthcare, according to WHO.
This is not acceptable.
Solid post Emerald – thank you.
I am deeply worried about what SCOTUS will decide. With corporations being “fictitious persons” it seems to me that the way around this is to limit them to the same maximum (I believe it’s $2500) that any given individual has. Obviously we have set in place loopholes for this with PACs etc., but that at least means Exxon et al. can’t give bundles we human beings cannot donate. I remember several decades ago that the obnoxious Hunt brothers proposed that every individual could VOTE as many times as he or she had dollars in the bank. We’re teetering on the brink. An acquaintance once asked me why he, who was wealthy, could not donate as much as he wanted. I said did that necessarily make him smarter than I? He was taken aback (lucky for me, he thinks I’m smart.) I pointed out that once Donald Trump had tried a brief run at the presidency, and all his mega-bucks showed was how incredibly stupid he was. Did The Donald’s wealth actually improve voters’ options? My acquaintance had to admit it did not.
We revere wealth in ways that are at odds with civic duty and rights. I, for one, am outraged that in many airports first-class passengers have a separate security line. Why? Why does paying more money for your ticket change your relationship to your civic duty? Security screening is something around which we are all equal, is it not?
We have to get over our love affair with money and power. Not sure how to restore sanity, but raising the issue as Emerald has done is a necessary first step.
Emerald1943, this is such an important topic. And you are so right.
Corporate donations impact our legislation at every stage — what gets to the floor, how laws are written, who votes for what. Congress members determine our quality of life, who is favored by our tax code, how our wealth is distributed. And they are beholden to corporate greed.
The president can campaign on a popular agenda and have the support of most of the American people — but if congress won’t budge, the agenda is dead. And policies we don’t want can be forced down our throats. All the damage done by the Bush Administration was made possible by congress.
I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how undemocratic the senate is. After reading comments from fellow Planetarians and articles at other progressive sites, it seemed that the only remedy for the senate would be campaign finance reform. And that begs the question — how do we get it passed, when the corruption benefits the very people who are in charge of changing the law?
A great topic to take up, Emerald.
If Mo is still here–I realize you’ve probably been asked to do this more than once on HP, but: could you give us any info on how campaigns are run in Germany? How long do they last? How is fundraising done? Is there radio/TV advertising that almost saturates the media? Are elections held on weekend days or weekdays? Any other details would be helpful.
I may have to go in to work again, but I look forward to your (and anyone else’s) thoughts on how this is done in other countries. We need ideas!
I was busy over the day. But I will respond to your question in an hour or two, if that is okay with you.
Excellent. It may be late tonight or early tomorrow a.m. before I have a chance to get back to the Planet.
Good morning from Germany, bitohistory!
Very good story, very important topic. In fact, one of the most important topics at all in US-american politics, actually – while it not only involves K-Street, but other, foreign entities like J-Street, too.
Sometimes I feel like the USA has become Gulliver, who has been caught by the Lilliputans and is now being led around at the nose with tied hands after the Lilliputans’ will and for their pleasure, stumblig about and helpless.
We ought to get this topic elaborated over a longer period of time and make it one of our core issues, to spread the news and help people get active on campaign-(or donation)-finance reform, to ever have a chance to bring about CHANGE in America, I believe.
At times, i really don’t know what do make of president Obama’s actions. This topic, for example: He had all means in the USA POSSIBLE to REALLY bring about change in this wonderful country right after he got elected. Never in the history of the USA was there a president, who had a greater majority of people behind him, willing to follow him on the path to a real, complete overhaul of your country like him!
But he fell so quickly for promises and whispers of center-right Washington establishment, that I sometimes cannot but think that he was, in fact, one of them already, even before he ran for presidency on a strong, left ticket – and now is only showing off those traits of character, which relly define him and his beliefs.
Have we ALL been betrayed by this president?
Well: Sometimes, I feel like it.
And if I were one of you, I would STRONGLY consider to finally take the duty and expose myself to the pain of establishing a REAL, center-left, majority-compatible compatible party in the USA, for the good of your country, for the good of your people and for the good of the world as a whole.
And don’t you even DARE think, that this can’t be done. Because, I have done exactly this myself already.
And I can tell you this: YES, YOU CAN!
Actually Reagan had a much bigger majority behind him and that problem lingers.
With all due respect you make it sound like the country made a huge ideological shift to the left. Well it didn’t. In every poll since the election a little over 40% call themselves moderates, a little over 30% call themselves conservatives and a little over 20% call themselves liberal. Even though 10,000,000 more people voted for Obama the ones that did not are not accepting his agenda. I know if people educated themselves the would consider themselves center left but our education system sucks too.
Obama never fell into center right Washington. He was and is center left based on this nation’s definition of center left not Europe’s. He knows the political realities of this country far better than most. It’s a process not a revolution.
That’s why it’s important that the only party that wants any progress goes about it’s business. Labeling success or failure at this point is just crazy because all it will be is counter productive to the progress that is being made. Everyone is always looking for the holy grail of a “real” progressive party when the only way things are going to change is to build off of any progress that is made with the party we have.
Frankly I would be more concerned why Europe is moving more to the right these days.
KQuarks – you wrote: “Frankly I would be more concerned why Europe is moving more to the right these days.”
Well: In fact, it’s a constant to and fro. The european countries’ political system isn’t static, but highly dynamic and is always looking for a new equilibrium, following the political currents.
And that is how it should be.
In times of economical distress, people ALWAYS tend to stick to the known faces and become conservative – i.e. they want to CONSERVE, what they have.
But as soon as times bear the promise of improving circumstances for the peoples’ life again, people become more daring and begin to see to optimize our political system again, to alleviate inequalities and spread the national wealth more evenly among the population.
This is purely logical and rational.
What I find completely illogical and, in fact, irrational, is the American peoples’ strong affiliation to their ineffective two-party-system – while all other mayor democracies in the world have proven beyond doubt already, that the political discourse, plurality, social behaviour and the leveling of social inequalities benefit VASTLY from a multi-party-system.
Hell, even the Brits have a third party in the meantime – they have Conservatives, Tories and Liberals in their Lower House. In Germany, we have 5 (FIVE!) different parties in the Bundestag, and even they get along civilized with each other and, in the end (and most of the time) produce coherent, surprisingly social, political legislation.
A political culture with many different, sometimes divergent, sometimes convergent opinions expressed by a multitude of parties is like a natural habitat filled with many different lifeforms: It might be quarrelsome to live there on occasion, but the place as a whole is vivid, healthy and productive.
The American Congress, on the other hand, often gives me an impression like the La Brea-Tarpits, in comparison.
Good morning, K! Nice to see you here!
I really like this site! I can say what I want to without worrying about only using 250 words!
I am certainly not labeling the President’s agenda as a failure and there is some glimmer of hope that we will see the “change” we voted for. But it looks as if the Senate will do everything in its power to squelch any hopes we might have had for true health care reform.
I saw an interview a few nights ago with a Congressman who said that over 100 bills were sitting, gathering dust, in the Senate. The House of Representatives has done its job…then the Senate just refuses to take up the bills. You would think that the Democrats do not have the majority.
Maybe we need to just get rid of the Senate! Let the House do the People’s business. It would really save us a bunch of money!
Good morning, mogamboguru! It’s nice to see you here rather than over at that “other” place.
Thanks for your comment. You bring up some good points about the two-party system. But unfortunately, a third party in this country has not been accepted. Third party candidates have usually been what I would call “fringe”, running on tax reform or consumer advocacy or some other issue.
As for President Obama, I have been a rabid supporter since last year. Lately though, I have felt somewhat betrayed too. I wonder if the entrenched “powers that be” in Washington are just too powerful for anyone to take on. I can only imagine the pressure on the President by the military-industrial complex to escalate the war, for example.
Americans seem to be stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard spot. The courts side with big business, the lawmakers are bought out by the lobbyists, and the American people are left sucking wind. I certainly would never advocate for any violence, but they are making us into a third-world country…I expect the pitchforks to come out of the shed soon!
I’m confused why you mention the “J Street lobby” which is an American-born effort to end the Muslim-Jewish mideast hostilites. I have a dear friend from CA who was one of the founders. It’s the dead opposite of APIC that is a K Street lobby and tied to Israel and other nations. J Street Lobby (so named because there IS no J Street in Washington DC) is a very positive force for GOOD.
I have been on the J Street mailing list since it’s inception. I read as much as I could about this new entity, and I must say I am impressed. J Street’s message is strong, positive and a good, new wrinkle for the people.
Excellent post and topic.
The concept of “corporate personhood” needs to be reversed in the courts before real campaign finance reform can be realized. As long as corporations have the same rights as individuals, the right to free speech in this case, any serious campaign finance reform will be unconstitutional.
Exactly! But the whole “corporate personhood” thing was an error to begin with…a notation by a clerk that was mistakenly put into the record and never taken out. What we are left with is legal bribery of our lawmakers. With the conservative High Court that we have now, it is folly to think they would ever change it.
Thanks for your kind comments!
Been meaning to read him but always put it off.
If you want a comprehensive definition of fascism, look to Umberto Eco.
You’re going to need to re-write the first amendment to the Constitution, I’m thinking, if you want any of this to change.
I have come to the clue, that changing America has become more of a pitchfork- than of a pencil-job, Keven.