Buying Democracy

It’s the simplest aspect to the American political process. Every American gets a vote (well kind of, but my concerns there are a matter for another day) and the person for whom the majority votes represents the people’s interest. That’s what I learned in the Boy Scouts. It’s what I learned again in Civics class. It’s what every ‘political expert’ on TV will tell you. From Washington to Obama it’s always been the same. The people choose.

The trouble is, you don’t choose your representatives anymore. The rich do. You have the illusion of a choice, of course. But what is really there for you is an option between corporate stooge number one and corporate stooge number two. When these stooges take office, they don’t represent your interests as they’re supposed to, they represent the interests of their financial backers. This is what our political climate has devolved to in the wake of Citizen’s United and other follow up cases.

This is the most flagrant evidence of corruption in American history and they don’t even bother to hide it. People are actually proud of how much their favored candidate received in campaign contributions (read bribes). In 2014 alone, a midterm election, 1.6 billion dollars was raised by candidates for the US House and Senate. That’s a million dollars per candidate. Two thirds of that money came from 0.22% of the American population. You don’t spend that kind of money without getting something out of it, and that’s a very small percentage of the population spending the money to get something. The rest of us are left hoping we don’t get abused too badly in the process.

Many naively assume that this doesn’t translate into politicians doing favors for those donors, but the first priority of the current congressmen now that they’re in office appears to be deregulating Wall Street, even repealing the ban of making risky investments with federally insured bank deposits (the activity that was largely at fault for the recent recession) and making it far more difficult to pass any new regulations against any industry. They’re also trying to slow the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and they’ve even cut funding to the IRS within the budget, thereby helping the wealthy elite avoid audits, which is expected to cost the federal government an estimated 2 billion dollars in revenue. I wouldn’t call that a useful addition to the budget.

There are group’s trying to fix this. Two I’m aware of are Larry Lessig’s Mayday PAC, which is trying to force candidates for national office to correct the situation (though I don’t see that happening since those are the people receiving all those high dollar campaign contributions), and Cenk Uygur’s Wolf PAC, which is trying to get state legislatures to call for a Constitutional Convention to propose an amendment prohibiting the current funding (this is my preference, and a group I strongly support, though not through my time or money as I have neither to spare). I’m sure there are more people pursuing this goal as well. After all, the majority of this country agrees with those of us who want to eliminate the problems of campaign finance. It seems to only be politicians and Supreme Court Justices who feel that anything less than a quid pro quo arrangement is not corruption.

I urge anyone reading this who has the time or money to contribute to look into Wolf PAC or a similar group and do what you can for what may be the single most important political issue of our generation. Make your voices heard to your state legislators. Demand a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention to eliminate the legalized bribery that the Supreme Court is allowing more and more. If, like me, you can’t contribute directly, at least do what I do. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, and anyone else who will bother listening to you to fight against this assault on the democratic process. Until the fight is won, we won’t have true representation.

In the meantime, just don’t let them buy your votes. Read up on the politicians, see what they’re really about. The fact that you’re a Republican and they’re a Republican, or you’re a Democrat and they’re a Democrat isn’t good enough. In reality, the people at the top of the political game are neither conservative nor liberal. They’re corporatist. If their ability to legally receive bribes goes any further, I’ll just have to be a seditionist.

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