Almost every day I think to myself “What the hell has happened to my country”? I still have a hard time coming to terms with the brutality and the crass disregard for human life that has become a cornerstone of American foreign policy. I also have a hard time coming to terms with this new American concept of fighting this so-called “War on Terror” that has led to the dissolution of our fundamental freedoms as expressed in the bill of rights.
This new America is fundamentally a dictatorship of the affluent. I was watching a book review on C-Span yesterday where the book “Was I Born on the Wrong Continent?” was being discussed. The subject of workers’ rights came up and a woman asked the author a question that was preceded with this statement “We all understand that the elephant in the living room that no one wants to talk about is campaign finance reform”. I was a bit taken aback at that statement only because I have been writing about that particular subject for the last six years.
I have to agree with that young woman who made that statement, but I don’t believe for a minute that “We all understand”. In fact, I believe that most of us in this country don’t understand how political campaigns as they are conducted in the United States has, for all intents and purposes, become so expensive that politicians have sold their souls in order to win elections.
It may be true that the American people realize the fact that it takes money to run a political campaign, but I don’t believe they understand how important this funding really is. According to the Center for Responsive Politics from their website Opensecrets.org; “Bundlers are people with friends in high places who, after bumping against personal contribution limits, turn to those friends, associates, and, well, anyone who's willing to give, and deliver the checks to the candidate in one big "bundle”.
Even though these donors direct more money to the candidates than anyone else, disclosure can be spotty, with Obama and McCain posting bundlers by ranges with the top ranges being simply "$500,000 or more." Together, 536 elites have directed at least $75,750,000 to McCain, and 560 have gathered at least $76,500,000 for Obama.
Just that one segment accounted for $152,250,000 for both candidates! Looking at Obama’s funds, lawyers and lobbyists accounted for 16.1 million dollars, so much for the claim that he didn’t take money from “special interests”.
Obama’s biggest contributor after the University of California was Goldman Sachs. Why is it that I’m not surprised? In the top twenty donors were Citigroup, Morgan-Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase, and UBS AG. One only has to reflect on the financial bail-out of Wall Street to understand that they made a hell of an investment.
Why am I bringing up old history? Well, I’m hoping that what I’m writing about may cause some of you to agree with that young woman on C-Span. Campaign finance IS that elephant in the living room. Everyday people like you and I need to remember this. When issues like extending the Bush tax cuts or a debate on corporate tax cuts comes along, we need to remember just who it is that the politicians need to payback Mussolini once remarked that fascism could be called "corporatism". We are in the process of becoming a fascist state, if we're not there already.
The Supreme Court has made things untenable. The ruling that allows corporations to put as much money as they wish into campaigns has caused a total disconnect between average Americans and the political system. When the Supreme Court made their decision, did you hear your representatives in Washington complaining? I only remember a brief (very brief) objection from President Obama. This was a telling moment; you would like to believe that something of this magnitude would garner loud protests from the “representatives of the people”, that they would bring it up at every opportunity and try to legislate against that kind of money in the election process. Their silence is deafening.
I’ve written about this before and I’ll write about it again. Until corporate money and special interest money is taken out of the political campaigns, or at least reduced, it will be the interests of the citizenry that will suffer. We need public financing for federal office seekers and debates financed by public television. The only way we are going to make this happen is a complete overhaul of the campaign finance system. We also need an amendment to the Constitution that will once and for all remove corporate “person-hood”.
The idea that corporations are “people” is patently ridiculous. Corporations are responsible to the shareholders, not the American nation. The corporations will support the politician that is best for their bottom line, not who is best for the country. Removing corporations from politics doesn’t mean that they won’t have representation; the people that run them and work for them have their individual votes. Thus, they ARE represented. Corporate person-hood is nothing but a sham foisted on the American people.
Nothing will change in Washington until the American people address this intolerable situation. This issue is the root cause of the legal bribery that fuels the political theater we see every day in Congress. Unless we demand campaign finance reform, the politicians will continue to legislate for the corporations and the banks. In fact, nothing is possible without CFR. As long as the corporations control who receives the money for their political campaigns, Congress will not be looking after the taxpayers. The wars will continue, single payer health care will never happen and the military industrial complex will continue to run this nation.
We have just witnessed the largest transfer of wealth in this nation’s history happen right under our noses. The majority of Americans screamed bloody murder yet the bailout of Wall Street happened anyway. Where is it written that the taxpayer should be responsible for bankers, insurance companies and automakers that got caught “gaming the system”? The money that the taxpayers spent to keep these corporations solvent could have gone into infrastructure and other projects to address chronic unemployment. We saw the banks sit on the bail-out money or watched them invest it overseas and yet even now the government is thinking about a second bail-out!
It’s not difficult to predict what the politicians will do. One merely needs to see who is funding their campaigns. I predicted that Obama would follow in Bush’s footsteps; I only had to follow the money. We no longer have a democratic republic, we have a corporate state. This won’t change until we remove the root cause of corporatism, the financing of political campaigns. It’s that simple.
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|Allen L. Jasson|