Privatized Elections Trump Democracy

Privatized Elections Trump Democracy

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More and more, multi-millionaires and billionaires are hiding behind patriotic-sounding organizations that do their bidding – many paying no taxes – to marshal mercenary companies who in turn outsource to professional snoops and trackers secretly collecting data, and hiring production companies which produce attack ads against political opponents. With Citizens United campaign funding, political parties are becoming an afterthought.

In fact Time Magazine[i] pointed out that when retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness decided to run for the Republican Senate nomination in Louisiana, the first calls he made were not to GOP officials, but to the heads of five outside groups that endorse and fund conservatives, the first five in the table below. In an office building near the White House, three or four staffers for the Club for Growth gave him the hard right litmus test, a third-degree-type grilling. He is running against Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu.

All organizations at the disposal of conservative big money have a mission to besmirch Democratic candidates, handpick their own candidates based on a grueling policy murder board, tuned to policies favored by the billionaires behind them – like gut the EPA, kill unions, reduce taxes for the rich, elicit advantage for corporations, and privatize everything possible. The Koch brothers, for example, spent over $400 million in 2012 to accomplish this, a relative pittance for billionaires who inherited billions.

Of course, Democrats are doing the same, but generally their candidates support majority interests, have far less money to spend, and have not yet set a unified policy of ruthlessly and maliciously vilifying opposition. Plus, progressives do not have a media juggernaut at their disposal: Fox News, hate radio and generally even the corporate media is behind them, many times repeating the distortions of Fox and like-minded sources.

Just look behind the scenes and evaluate both. Like rope-a-dope tactics reminiscent of Mohammed Ali (Cassius Clay) years ago – he would lean against the ropes with his gloves up to wear out his opponent in the boxing ring, but the conservative machine does the opposite. It puts you up against the ropes, trying to take away health insurance, retirement benefits, veteran support, the right to sue corporations, education, voting rights, clean air and water, and individual rights. Then in your weakened, even toxic state, it pummels you with distortions, half-truths, low wages, and unemployment until you drop from exhaustion. Overstated? Maybe, but in effect, it happens.

The result that the conservative machine seeks is either you don’t vote — voter suppression, poisonous ads, and the burden of two or more jobs taking its toll, or you vote against your own interests, actually buying the toxic, attack ads that patriotic sounding organizations help to flood TV with. The messages intending to polarize, perhaps beginning some 30 years ago, have intensified, rendering a large portion of the population steady consumers of right-wing pulp. In such a satiated state, the steady vitriol produces angry voter or turned-off voters, often swaying close elections, especially in midterm elections.

The following table documents some of the organizations existing for conservative takeover:

Organization

Actions and Policy Goals

Est. Spending in 2012

Involved in Funding/founders

The Club for Growth

Cut taxes, estate tax repeal, limited gov, free trade, tort reform, privatize schools, deregulation & union busting

$18 million

Cato Institute & Koch bros

Freedom Works

Gutting health care, cut taxes, demonize government

$20 million

Koch bros

The Madison Project

Replace both parties with 21st century conservatives

$3 million

Disgruntled GOP

The Senate Conservatives Fund

Small gov, abolish IRS & defund ACA

$16 million

Jim DeMint, aligned with Tea Party

Heritage Action for America

Supported government shutdown in 2013; against unemployment compensation

$1.3 million

Koch bros

Americans for Prosperity

Major role in GOP takeover of House in 2010

$36 million

Koch bros, Tea Party

America Rising

Privatized education. Focus on weakening Hillary before she gets started.

new

Tim Miller

Koch Industries

Union busting, privatizing public functions, gut EPA, low taxes, etc

$400 million

Many funds

Most donors of these groups and many others are cloaked in secrecy, like the biannual rite for conservative magnates and hedge-fund managers, staged by Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries. The last one was revealed by a printed agenda left behind by a guest.

Actually, most voters have very few clues who is manipulating their votes on television commercials, commercials which demonize candidates like Kay Hagan in North Carolina. American for Prosperity, a Koch-backed nonprofit outfit, has already spent $8 million against Hagan vilifying her support of the Affordable Care Act, something Koch ads generally have done in many states through creepy ads.

In the last election, billionaire Art Pope already bought the government in North Carolina – the governor and the legislature — through his own shadowy “charitable” foundations: The John Locke Foundation, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and the Pope Foundation. He was promptly made Budget Director for his chattel governor, Pat McCrory. North Carolinians have been rewarded with anti-people laws: voter suppression, anti-women, anti-LGBT, anti-environment and anti-education bills, just to name a few.

The latest is the coal ash pollution of rivers by Duke Energy, Governor McCrory’s former employer. Suits against Duke by environmental groups were discharged by McCrory until the Justice Department stepped in.

Such anti-people activities are common among Republicans in all states where they enjoy domination of state governments. The GOP in federal government also proves their allegiance to plutocrats.

The questions that remain: how much obstruction, how much voter suppression, how much distasteful mudslinging, how much gutting of education, how much environmental deterioration, how much GOP lying, how much demagoging must we bear before this debasement of democratic rule is over?


[i] “Party Down,” Time Magazine, March 3, 2014, page 33.

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