You can talk about any specific issue or problem in our country, some of which are quite vital to the health and welfare of millions of Americans, like jobs, for example. But there is no real solution to any of our problems until we take money out of politics.
We have quickly gone from a democracy to a corporatocracy, basically because neo-conservative forces have relentlessly weakened the safeguards that either defended or acted as checks against the forces of power and money, that being an independent media, the checks and balances posed by 3 branches of government, and the countervailing institutional influences like corporations and labor unions, the latter weakened and almost toothless.
The apex of our democracy came with the Great Society of the Lyndon Johnson administration, the vitality of democracy waning with the unrelenting attacks of neo-conservative forces, investing millions in a unified program to consolidate corporate power into monolithic corporations.
The unified movement made media the plaything of moneyed conglomerates while weakening government regulation in all realms; its fists disbursed untold millions in order to buy government leaders; it implemented a privatization campaign against everything public, demonized government to undermine public safety-net programs, and filled the airwaves with propaganda to win over the masses by slowly changing cultural values regarding work, wealth, religion, and individualism.
Our current generation and parents were weaned on the images of rugged individualism, milk-sap liberalism, the religion of sated consumerism, and a we-all-can-be-millionaires mentality. There are corporate makers and welfare takers they said, a plaint made popular by Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen” cant (which at the time suggested someone black and lazy).
“Government is the problem,” he said, repeating the mocking attacks of the rich who helped refine his already right-wing opinions. He oft-repeated the running joke about government ineptness. His suspension of the FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine” in 1987 made possible “hate-radio” as well as the right-wing rancor of Fox News on television.
Where does that put us now? Deep into a corporate state.
Corporate money, influence and power has bought and intimidated our leaders: Obama, Congress, the Supreme Court — on down to our municipal leaders. Currently, our media has been bought and controlled by the rich and powerful. There is some independence in obscure pockets but mainstream media is corporate. For example, only when the mainstream media was shaken with the violence of police repression of the Occupy Movement did they report on the movement’s significance. However, tiny demonstrations of the Tea Party, a movement directed by the rich, got intense coverage.
Also getting great coverage are Republican campaign events, for which the influence of money has seemed to draw numbskull (puppet) candidates, who trades leads, while they say stupid, outlandish things, totally unrelated to what is truth or, more pointedly, advocate policies that curse majority interests while lauding the top 1%.
Take the Republican candidates for president. They are total toys of the 1%. “Corporations are people, my friend,” says Romney, the puppet spokesman for the 1% and benefactor of “Citizens United.” Rick Santorum sees contraception as a dire evil. The illogical and hypocritical consequences of such a policy would suggest that police should be posted in your bedroom for contraception to be denied. Is this not the same Santorum who speaks out against “big government.” Herman Cain was kind of a stand-in for Koch Brother ideas, for example, his 9-9-9 plan involved regressive taxes, the idea, most likely coming from a parlor game.
Then there is John Kyl, the truth-challenged, if not slow-witted, ideologue Senator from Arizona, who lied when saying that abortions are 90% of Planned Parenthood’s services, when actually 3%. He further showed his ineptitude in truth and logic by saying it was “not intended to be a factual statement.” Then nearly all Republicans – House and Senate — had the gall to vote for a Paul Ryan plan to abolish Medicare, a program that currently keeps many seniors out of bankruptcy.
The avalanche of truth-challenged Republicans winning in 2010 at all levels, documented voters voting against themselves, the products of ever-streaming propaganda and Republican promises of jobs. We should remember that Republicans would not have the impudence to exclusively favor the rich if voters didn’t vote against their own interests.
President Obama is not immune to the influence of big money and its tendency to intimidate wrong-headed decisions. He signed the Defense Authorization Bill which had a rider allowing a denial of Constitutional rights to American citizens. It should be noted that his “signing statement” said, “This president won’t imprison American citizens without rights.” In essence, this is saying “Keep me as president because the Republican nominee could imprison you without rights.”
But both Democratic presidents since LBJ have been infected by the influence of money. Bill Clinton put a large dent in welfare needs for the vulnerable and made casino capitalism possible with his bank de-regulation decision in 1999.
So trust me. All leadership is and will be compromised by money until we do something like public funding of elections and restricting the length of campaigns. Will Obama spend a billion this year for reelection? What will Republicans spend secretly to trash opponents with a constant stream of 30 second television attack ads? Campaigns are so long that a 2-year term for a member of the House assures they never stop holding their hands out for money and doing favors for the rich. As a result, lobbyists write their legislation.
You do know that the interests of the people will continue to be forgotten until campaign reform – not stopgap reform – is established.