My very first effort at writing here on PlanetPOV was about this subject, one that I believe to be of vital importance to the future of our democracy. After a discussion this morning about the Republicans’ plans to regain control of Congress in the next election, I felt that this should be revisited.
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 United States Supreme Court 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. (Imagine the “Swiftboat” ads, so successful against John Kerry, sponsored and paid for by Exxon or Goldman-Sachs for example.)
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. Those lawmakers who have taken millions from the health care lobby have trumpeted all the talking points put out for them by the industry, in spite of what the American people want or need. Their arrogance has likewise 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!
This problem of corporate control of our lawmakers is not a left vs. right, Republican vs.Democrat, liberal vs. conservative problem. It is a deeply rooted cancer that has had a most destructive effect on the people we have elected to do OUR business.
Corporate lobbyists pay handsomely for the privilege of writing legislation to favor their causes. They line the halls of the Capitol outside our Senators’ offices, waiting for their access, holding checks for millions upon millions of dollars in their briefcases. Their causes may or may not be just…to the recipients of those funds, it seems to matter not. The almighty dollar is king! This is not government by elected representation! This is government by BRIBERY!
If there was ever a cause around which the progressives could rally, it would be the reform of our campaign finance laws. The recent health care debates have shown a bright light on the corruption by the lobbyists. In a fair and just world, we would have seen the last of this corruption, but unfortunately, we will continue to face it every time there is proposed legislation that would thwart some corporation’s plans to exploit the people or the environment…at least until We The People demand a change. Public financing of all political campaigns and the outlawing of gifts to our lawmakers would go a long way in solving many of the critical issues that face our nation. The people could then expect a fair debate on those issues without the insidious influence of the big banks and corporations whose representatives sit behind our lawmakers in every discussion and debate.
I have asked the question before…”How do we convince our lawmakers to cut off the hands that feed them?” I would suggest that the American voter will support any progressive who promises to put this issue front and center, to promote public financing of all campaigns. It is vitally important to us all, no matter to which party we belong. Our “representative democracy” is being crushed by the money of the big corporations. Our beloved democracy is dying and we had better wake up soon.
Campaign finance reform will not take place. Like the health insurance interests who have shown their power and influence during the healthcare debate, there are similar major interest groups who want a status quo on the election process.
Major media, print and TV, political consultants, state and local party structures, all the businesses who provide products and services to incumbents and aspiring candidates in their pursuit of nomination and election. Billions of dollars.
There’s just too much money at stake to allow the reforming of this multi-billion dollar business, no unlike healthcare interests. We suffer from a serious case of “the tragedy of the commons” is a term coined by scientist Garrett Hardin in 1968 which describes what can happen in groups when individuals act in their own best self interests and ignore what
Emerald: this article of yours is so well-written, and so important.
I agree with what you say…but how hard it will be to wean those in power away from the corporate breast…if I might put it that way.
They have a good thing going and my guess is that, for that very reason, CFR is near or at the bottom of their lists. Over here in the UK there has been lots of discussion about CFR lately..but nothing ever gets going. It flares up and then dies down.
With people like you, totally committed, there is real hope, though. I support you 100% on this.
Thanks for a great article.
Another huge obstacle that threatens our ‘democracy’ is the corporate owned media that favors Republicans.
I posted something to that effect earlier today.
Hey there, j! I’m glad you’re here! 🙂
This is one of those “chicken or the egg” questions…which came first? How much money do the media corporate interests pay our republican friends?
You know I really need to do some research on this and see how campaigns are financed in other countries. We are in such a bubble in this country I think we need to look at good proven ideas from outside our system.
“We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. . . .
It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war,corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war.
God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.”
The passage appears in a letter from Lincoln to (Col.) William F. Elkins, Nov. 21, 1864
And his suspicions were not groundless………………
I don’t have the quotation handy, Sue, but Jefferson also wrote about the same thing even before Lincoln.
“How do we convince our lawmakers to cut off the hands that feed them?”
That is THE question. I still think our best bet is cultivating progressive primary challengers. I don’t think we’ll get any help from the Supreme Court on this issue (quite the contrary).
We should look at states who have made inroads into public financing of campaigns and see how they did it. If we can get more and more states to adopt public financing, it would probably be easier to get legislation at the federal level.
Nice update, Emerald!
Thanks, my friend! I really feel passionately about this! Your suggestion is a good one about working for the states to develop their own financing. I have a friend who is a state senator in North Carolina. I think it might be good to contact him. Trying to do anything at a national level will only just get bogged down in partisan politics.