I HATE TO BREAK IT TO YOU ‘MURICANS: BUT WE DON’T LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY.
The reality is that most Americans are not surprised by this statement, they know that there is a grave problem in Washington, Money in Politics: The issue that affects every other issue. The United States has transformed from a Representative Democracy to a plutocracy. There is no debate about that, Americans across the political spectrum agree that there is widespread government corruption.
That strong sentiment is supported by the princeton peer-reviewed study “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” which proved the U.S is effectively “Not really a democracy.” The study used substantial policy facts and statistics gathered between 1981 and 2002 to empirically ascertain the condition of the U.S political system.
The Gist of it is as follows.
“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
“ When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. A proposed policy change with low support (one-out-of-five in favour) among economically elite Americans is adopted only about 18%, while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time.”
“Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”
Indeed, we live in a Government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich: i.e a plutocracy.
Not the 1% but the .001 percent. The elite, the establishment, the charitable donors politicians are so lucky to have. They are the people who congress almost exclusively listens to. This corruption is prevalent both in republican and democratic politicians. The perfect example of the presence of this virus in the Democratic Party is Hillary Rodham Clinton who received 250,000 dollars a piece for speeches to Goldman Sachs and who coincidentally enough her ads running for president were void of actually policy! That’s because corporate Democrats don’t stand for anything, they are puppets to the establishment. Let’s not be naive and pretend that donations that large will not affect a representative. Not only does it influence their stance on important issues, it keeps them from working on actual policy for the American people because they spend more time fundraising than doing legislative work!
Corruption in politics: It explains Democrats not fully supporting: Raising taxes on the wealthy, cracking down on the wealthy who hide their money in the cayman islands, Infrastructure: according to the civil society of engineering we have a grade of D when it comes to our infrastructure, Banning fracking: so that we don’t all eventually become Flint Michigan: where the water can literally catch fire, universal healthcare, 0 people die because they’re underinsured in other industrialized countries because they have universal healthcare, while in U.S it is 45,000 people, every single year!
But hey let’s forget about catching up to every other industrialized nation in the world!
I reiterate, money in politics is the issue that affects every other issue.
This is why it’s imperative to do campaign finance: It is the problem that is blocking change, progress, democracy!
Let’s take a brief walk down history lane, to when campaign finance started and when it was unraveled, causing the chaos that we have today.
The first law to regulate federal campaigns was the Tillman Act of 1907- It was implemented as a result of a scandal involving Teddy Roosevelt courting big donors. It prohibited corporations and national banks from contributing money directly to presidential or congressional campaigns during general elections.
Then came the Federal Corrupt Practices Act of 1910 – The first federal campaign disclosure law, implemented because of the 1920s tea pot dome scandal, involving President Warren G. Harding’s secretary of the interior accepting bribes from oil companies.
Next The Public Utilities Holding Act-of 1935 prohibited public utility companies from contributing to federal campaigns, The Smith Connally Act of 1943- banned labor unions from making direct contributions to federal campaigns. In response, unions created political action committees to raise money for campaigns. PACs. Next The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947- reinforced prohibitions on unions and other non profit organizations, banks, and corporations making contributions to federal candidates.
After Watergate, stricter campaign finance laws were welcomed. Congress passed several amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act in 1947. They were: The creation of the bipartisan Federal Election Commission, which oversees and enforces the law of campaign finance. And contribution limits to federal campaigns, and Set spending caps for candidates.
Sen. James Buckley (R-NY) and others challenged a number of the 1974 amendments to FECA (Federal Election Campaign Act), saying the spending limits violated free speech rights. The case ended up in front of the Supreme Court. In Buckley v. Valeo the Supreme Court struck down spending limits imposed on candidates and individuals or groups. It also limited the scope of what constitutes corruption: it made it only define corruption as bribery which was already illegal and much harder to prove. The supreme Court has a strange definition of corruption as only quid pro quo, instead of undue action and influence. Buckley v. Valeo made a distinction between direct campaign contributions and independent expenditures- independent expenditures it was decided did not have sufficient corrupting influence.
Buckley v Valeo implications weakened the impact of regulations in the FECA (Federal Election Campaign Act) in 1979. It created the loophole that allows individuals, unions, and corporations to give unlimited sums to parties, PACs and national party committees for “party-building” purposes. These donations are known as “soft money.”
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, also known as the McCain-Feingold law of 2002, banned “soft money.” The law prohibited the broadcast of political issue ads paid for by corporations or unions within 30 days of a primary or within 60 days of a general election. However this didn’t last very long.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 2010 that the government cannot restrict the spending of corporations, unions, and other groups in support of political campaigns, maintaining that it’s their “First Amendment right” to support candidates as they choose. It dismantled the McCain–Feingold campaign-finance law of 2002
In another blow to campaign-finance reform, the Supreme Court struck down caps on the total amount individuals can donate to federal campaigns and political parties saying that limits violate free speech protections in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission in 2014
Money in politics is on steroids in the status quo because of the last two Supreme Court cases
Citizens United and McCutcheon, But the problem goes farther back to Buckley v. Valeo in
People in congress are not inherently nefarious however, they are in a bad incentive structure. They must raise money for their campaigns, to become well known and voted for. When they don’t sell out as much as their opponent, they lose. This is proven by a chart created by United Republic a nonpartisan nonprofit that spreads awareness of the impact of money in politics, the chart analyzed 467 congressional races held in 2012: The findings were that 91 % of the time the better financed candidate wins.
The solution is to run with zero corporate money, instead rely on small donations from regular people, ergo representing the people. However, this is not a message that resonates with most current democrats. Getting the right policy implemented is not going to be easy when even the supposed “liberal” politicians have to be dragged, protested, and convinced into advocating or at least supporting standard liberal positions. A perfect example of this would be Big Pharma sell out Senator of New Jersey Cory Booker who voted against an amendment that would allow Americans to purchase pharmaceutical drugs from Canada, this decision got a huge backlash. Which resulted in senator Booker later joining the Senator who introduced it: Bernie Sanders, a true populist.
Noam Chomsky a renowned intellectual and political activist of the left has observed that the congress of the United States has shifted greatly to the right, he noted that “Today’s mainstream democrats are pretty much what used to be called moderate Republicans. Somebody like Eisenhower, for example, would be considered way out on the left.” Congress may have shifted to the right, but the American people couldn’t be further from where the average representative is on the political spectrum! Americans are liberal issue for issue, this is demonstrated in the great popularity of Bernie Sanders and his policy. The change needs to come from within the Democratic party, we need to bring back the true Democrats. The type of Democrats that were fighting for the working class, the average joe, for us. Many Americans think that a third U.S party is needed, but it would be very difficult to bring in a third party because there are simply too many systemic barriers in place. However, there is a way of giving the change in candidates Americans want, that is where Justice Democrats could come in. Justice Democrats is a PAC founded by Cenk Uygur co-founder of The Young Turks: the largest online news show in the world, that is running true Democrats: actual progressives that pass the litmus test for important issues and zero corruption. Justice Democrats will run against the corporate Democrats with the help of small donations from regular people just like Bernie Sanders did for his campaign. We can all help by signing up, donating, and spreading awareness of this movement!
There are many ways in which people are fighting corruption in government, trying to petition for anti-corruption laws, changing the system bottom up by starting at local to state to federal level as represent.us advocates for. Another solution is one also proposed by The Young Turks to pass an amendment, the 28th amendment which would make it clear that corporations are not people and do not have the right to spend money in our political system, that individual donors can not surpass 100 dollars in campaign contribution, an amendment that would expand the definition of corruption in the united states because it is so narrow in the status quo that giving gifts to a congressman worth thousands of dollars is not considered corruption because there is no tape of them saying exactly what they were to receive for the gift, an amendment that makes public funding the only source of money allowed for campaigns because politicians should be supported by the people they ought to represent, not a small group of donors. This amendment would restore our democracy, allow real change to happen in terms of policy and ultimately make the United States better for the future generations to come.
Let’s keep things real. This amendment can’t go through congress because congress is the problem. So what we have to do is go through the states, once we get 2/3rds of state legislatures to call for a constitutional convention we are set! The amendment can then be approved by three-fourths of the states. Let’s make it happen, contact your state legislators, sign the petition GO TO wolf Pac.com, the political revolution is in process, it is our time. We are the 99.9% and we want our democracy back!
Written by: Amelia Valdovinos