The fault in our government: The need for a political revolution

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 Citizenswhich 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.”

They conclude:

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 theirFirst 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

1947.

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

Advertisements

Revolutions Don’t Happen Overnight, or in One Election Cycle…

It has been nearly a year since the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election, and ever since November 9th, the thought of who will be our next president has crossed all of our minds. Pollsters made their polls, pundits jumped into the news, correspondents toyed with potential 2020 contenders. I was one of those people who already began to shut out what was going on now to think about the future. That was a bad idea. It was a way to cope with a shocking and horrifying truth about what lie in the shadows of our nation. So, instead of just trying to cope, we need to evaluate. We need to evaluate our needs, and who can give us what we need.

2016 was not the most consequential election of our time, it was a “whitelash” (as stated by CNN commentator Van Jones in November of 2016) from extreme conservatives, racists, white supremacists, and nationalists who have loathed and resented the Obama Era. The election of Donald Trump was their attempt at molding the country they want, but it is time to show the hateful that this is not their country.

2020 will be the most consequential election. Will we as Americans truly unite against hate? Like really unite? Not this garbage spewed out by the Trump Administration and also the DNC. The unity they convey is falling in line to their neo-fascist and neo-liberal ideals, respectively, or risk complete excommunication from the party. Will we stand together in the face of hatred, will we defeat acts of neo-fascism, will we condemn white supremacy to an eternity of silence and exile? We must. Now, who are our choices that can do that? If this two-party system does not allow in a third, then it is up to the Democratic Party to uphold this duty. A duty to restore our constitutional republic and its principles of equality, justice, and of course freedom. The Democratic Party can change.

BERNIE SANDERS

Bernie Sanders is probably the most likely person to run for the Democratic nomination again in 2020 due to his continuation of remaining in national headlines, as well as traveling across the nation and even abroad to spread his message. A message of progressiveness, inclusive politics, and one of equality in all aspects. He has not made any clear decision or hint at 2020, but tireless acts prove otherwise. He has not hesitated in any fight when it comes to defending our values from being attacked by the Republican Party and Trump Administration. He has not held back in calling out Donald Trump’s horrible decisions, that earn him interesting headlines every single day.

Most of us can agree that the Democratic National Committee favored Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary; the use of super-delegates, having more Clinton campaign members on the DNC party platform, as well as limiting the number of debates during the primary. The list goes on. Hillary Clinton lost, so it would make sense that the DNC would take a hint from this lesson. They should support his candidacy, along with whoever runs, they should not undermine his campaign. Bernie Sanders deserves a real chance.

JOE BIDEN

Hold on, don’t react just yet. Yes, Joe Biden could be a good President, and could solve a lot of our issues. Joe Biden is a humble man, he’s spent his entire life in public service. Many would say he is a center-left Democrat, and I can agree with that. He isn’t as vocal as Bernie Sanders or even Elizabeth Warren when it comes to what changes our nation needs. However, Joe Biden could be our transitioning President into a new era. According to his most recent book, Promise Me, Dad, the former Vice President has “not decided not to run in 2020.” In 2015, Joe Biden’s son, Beau Biden, passed away due to brain cancer. If not for his death, Joe Biden would have run for President in 2016. He has said that we need to reach a consensus if we are to get anything done… there’s our beacon of hope. Joe Biden has respect from both sides of the aisle, he has allies on both sides of the aisle. He hasn’t been an entirely polarizing figure, and this could come in handy.

If Joe Biden were to run for President in 2020, he would surely bring in both the establishment Democrats, and the Democratic base which is mainly progressive. A President Biden could be the safe transition from a viciously and violently divided nation of the Trump Era, into a nation of understanding, and actual unity. A President of finding common ground, and working from there. He has the experience, he’s spent his entire life to helping others, and will surely continue to make our lives better.

TULSI GABBARD

Tulsi Gabbard is the Representative of Hawaii’s second congressional district, and a strong potential candidate. She could be the first woman President in 2020, and also the youngest, currently 36 years of age. Tulsi Gabbard has earned respect from both parties, due to her sacrifice in serving in the Armed Forces, including serving a tour in Iraq. She has been vocal about ending the “unnecessary regime-change wars” which indeed have backfired. She understands the costs of war, and recently proposed the Stop Arming Terrorists Act which would prevent the CIA from arming Syrian and other forces on the ground, which end up in the hands of ISIS.

On October 29, 2017 the Representative of Hawaii released a video on Facebook regarding the current status of the Democratic Party. She tells us that the infighting continues, and it is true because those on social media see it as well; infighting from the base to the upper echelons of the DNC. She is fighting for a reform within the DNC, including the elimination of super-delegates, which the DNC once promised to do at the end of the 2016 primary.

Tulsi Gabbard is not a warhawk like many establishment Democrats. She is a steady voice, she is a young face, a new face, and someone who listens to what the people want.

ELIZABETH WARREN

On October 24th, 2017, I wrote an article about Elizabeth Warren being the “Second Coming of Theodore Roosevelt”. I faced harsh criticism on social media for it, anger and discontent in a myriad of forms. One of those criticisms was how could I support a woman who voted to increase our military budget to a staggering 700 billion dollars? Bernie Sanders did not vote for it, Kirsten Gillibrand did not vote for it, Kamala Harris did not vote for it… but Elizabeth Warren did. However, I am choosing to not let this one bad decision determine what I think of Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth Warren grew up in a lower middle class household in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and spent her life fighting for working families to prevent bankruptcy and to stop banks from dictating the lives of many.

Throughout her first term as Senator, which began in 2012, she has been a big nasty thorn for Wall Street and corporate America. She has relentlessly questioned numerous CEOs and CFOs, including Wells Fargo and Equifax with ferocity after their financial blunders that hit our economy hard. Being born in the central regions of our country, Warren has ties to populations of the nation that may feel neglected by the Democrats. Democrats have been associated as coastal elites, due to the strong blue states like New York and California dominating the electoral map. She is evidence of a mid-western American being a left-wing progressive and that the Democratic Party is not about coastal liberals.

Elizabeth Warren has made a mistake in voting to approve the 700 billion dollar budget, we don’t know the whole story. She could have been trying to get on the good side of some Republicans in order to counter Trump and defeat the Republicans’ regressive agenda.

We don’t know the whole story in why some people voted the way they did. It is not a pass for them, but it is acknowledgement.

So now, as we wait for special counsel Robert Mueller to tear down the Trump Administration, we must set our sights on 2020. We need to encourage these fellow individuals, these leaders, that they are what is needed to help our wounded nation. Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Tulsi Gabbard, and Elizabeth Warren have visions to how we can fulfill the United States’ destiny. Revolutions never happen overnight, they take time. They are built over days, weeks, months, and years of consistent dedication and determination for change.


US Could Become Single-Party State by 2024

Many of us would like to agree that the Democratic and Republican Party are two sides of the same coin. They are old political institutions that have dominated local, state, and federal politics for decades, and we can never seem to get a third party into the fray.

We’ve managed to elect and nominate progressives in the Democratic Party, mainly in local and state levels, and for the Republicans, they have done the same with far-right candidates.

It wasn’t until the election of Barack Obama in 2008 when we saw how divided our country is, and our politics became violently polarized. I say it started to get bad in 2008 because of the horrible racism and hate thrown at our first African American President. The Republican Party has begun moving to the right, they did not believe he was born in the US, and the Democrats have significantly moved to the right as well (from the political center). Democrats have become more and more complicit to Republicans, as seen in the second term of Barack Obama’s presidency when the Republicans gained a majority in Congress. When it came to any political fight over a vote or piece of legislation, they hesitated, they complained, and barely pushed at their opponents in both houses of Congress.

Democrats have also lost their touch. First, they’re making the mistake of categorizing us: the women vote, the white vote, the black vote. No, it’s supposed to just be the American vote. All of us. Identity politics is a part of the problem of why Democrats have lost touch with hard-working Americans. How can you preach about unity and preach about countering Trump’s divisiveness when this same party is categorizing its own supporters?

So, where does this leave us? I don’t want to vote Democrat if they continuously neglect our progressive wants and needs, and I’m sure millions more don’t either. I voted for Jill Stein in the 2016 presidential general election because I did not feel comfortable with either. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton did not represent me or my dreams or my hopes. (Cue neo-liberals blaming me for Trump).

And, to know that more Democrats are up for re-election in the Senate than Republicans, worries me. If more people are discouraged with the Democrats because of their lack of change, that leaves Republicans as the continuous winner. Sure, Donald Trump might be impeached or resign, or replaced by another Republican. But what we’re seeing is a rapid growth of conservatism and backwards thinking because of Trump. He made people think it’s okay to be hateful, racist, and downright rude. Now, if Democrats can’t hop on board and move left, we’re going to see more Republican victories.

But wait, I said polarization is the problem. Moving farther left would thus fan that fire. So, how do we prevent more Republican victories, where people are voting against their interests such as Medicaid/Medicare cuts, and cuts to Social Security? We need to show people the pros of big government. We all like those programs. We all want to retire in peace, we want to be taken care of when sick, and we want our families to be taken care of. It’s time to end the stigma of big government equals no liberty. This isn’t 1776. This isn’t 1812. We aren’t desperately fighting for our freedom from an imperial colonizer. It

is 2017. 40,000 veterans are homeless. 1.2 million children are homeless. 93 people die every day due to gun violence. If the Democratic Party doesn’t change, the Republicans will have a ploy to gain votes because they come off as helping everyday Americans. If the Democratic Party doesn’t change, it will die. The Republicans will maintain control of our government and continue to fool the American populace until our voices are heard.


SOURCES:

HTTPS://WWW.VA.GOV/HOMELESS/ACCOMPLISHMENTS/2016-BY-THE-NUMBERS.ASP

HTTPS://CAMPAIGNFORCHILDREN.ORG/WP-CONTENT/UPLOADS/SITES/2/2017/03/HCYA-FACT-SHEET-MARCH-2017-FINAL-.PDF

HTTPS://WWW.BRADYCAMPAIGN.ORG/KEY-GUN-VIOLENCE-STATISTICS


150 wildfires burn down Galicia

Around 150 wildfires have been recorded this past week in Galicia, an autonomous region in the north-west of Spain. Thousands of hectares of woodlands have been completely destroyed, and at least four deaths have been recorded. The fires, which originated in country fields and pushed through forests, even managed to make their way to the outskirts of important population centers like Vigo (300,000 inhabitants) or Lugo (100,000 inhabitants). But how were these fires started?

 

The Galician Xunta – the regional government – has remarked that all fires were deliberately started. Although this statement may not be completely correct, early indications suggest that most fires could have been originated on purpose. The Guardia Civil, which is the Spanish police force, has found several pyrotechnic devices in areas close to those affected by the flames which could have been used to set off the blaze. Local witnesses have also stated that they have seen people setting fields on fire.

The reasons behind this catastrophe are now under investigation. The most probable cause is the burning of country estates by farmers. This technique has been used for generations as a way of cleaning plots of land of stubble. The problem arises when these fields are located too close to forests – most of them of pine and eucalyptus trees, which are highly flammable. There is legislation concerning this practice, but nevertheless, it still takes place in dangerous locations. Another hypothesis had revolved around the disputed Ley de Montes, a law which allows the construction on land which has previously been destroyed by fire. Only a week ago, the two main left-wing opposition parties had unsuccessfully tried to change this ruling so as to get rid of any possible economic motivation to start forest fires.

 

 

One man who started a fire just 300 meters away from some houses has now been arrested, and the Guardia Civil has warned those responsible for the fires that they will be found. The Spanish minister of Interior, Juan Ignacio Zoido, has also had a word for the offenders and stated that they “will pay” for putting human lives at risk and for causing irreparable damage to the local natural heritage. Unusually high temperatures and strong winds made the task even more complicated for the firefighters, but only a few dozens of fires are still active and they are all under control.

 

 


 

JohnMc

Official defends Trump’s comments to war widow

United States General John Kelly stood up to condemn a Congresswomen’s accusations that President Donald Trump made a soldier’s widow cry at Thursday’s White House press briefing.

US Congresswoman Frederica Wilson claimed earlier this week that Mr Trump told the bereaved wife of Sgt. La. David Johnson that “he knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”

Mr Kelly, who is Trump’s chief-of-staff, explained to reporters that he was “broken-hearted” by Wilson listening in on the conversation between Trump and the Gold Star widow he said should have been private.

The general said that sharing news of a casualty to family was a last vestige of respect, saying he was “stunned” the Democrat had inappropriately listened in.

Kelly also pointed out that he did not receive a call from former President Barack Obama when his son had died in Afghanistan in 2010. He said it wasn’t a criticism, but just a fact that president’s do not call all relations of those killed in the line of duty.

Sgt Johnson was one of four soldiers killed in Niger by Islamic militants earlier in October.

In response to reporters asking what the soldiers were doing, and without air support, Kelly said that an investigation by the military’s AFRICOM was underway.

The general started off by explaining the procedure of what happens when a US soldier is killed in combat. He got anecdotal in his explanation of  how society has changed in regards to respect to women, among other things.

More details to follow. Image 1 a screenshot from The White House YouTube Live. 

Click here to support independent media!

Spain to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy

The Spanish government said on Thursday it will suspend Catalonia’s autonomy after the region’s president Carles Puigdemont did not drop intentions to succeed from Madrid.

Catalonia’s president Mr Puigdemont confirmed that a move for independence was still suspended in a letter sent to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy just hours before a central government deadline passed for the region to drop independence aspirations by 10 am local time.

Government spokesman Méndez de Vigo said Madrid was “following procedure” by moving to revoke Catalonian autonomy and “restore constitutional order and legality” to the region.

De Vigo explained that Puigdemont has “not been clear” on his intentions so the government was following procedure.

The Spanish federal cabinet will meet on Saturday to propose invoking Article 155, suspending Catalonian home rule.

Catalonia’s leadership have not responded to the Spanish move at this time, but an announcement is expected shortly.

Puigdemont’s letter threatened that Catalonia would declare independence if Madrid did not enter negotiations with Barcelona. He also wrote that the Catalan parliament could vote for a formal declaration of independence if no talks are offered by Madrid.

The deadline was set by Spain after Puigdemont said on Oct 10 that an independence referendum 10 days earlier gave him a mandate to declare the region separation from the central government.

However, the region’s president delayed implementing a declaration in favour of entering talks with Madrid.

More details to follow. Please refresh for the latest. Image 1 of Catalan separatists rallying earlier this month. 

Click here to support independent media!

United States, Canada and Mexico halt NAFTA

Canada, the United States, and Mexico have halted the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations, and extended the discussion into mid 2018.

All three nations have criticized their North American neighbors, and called their proposals counterproductive, with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, saying the US conducted a “series of unconventional proposals,” and the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer saying, “I am surprised and disappointed by the resistance to change from our negotiating partners.”

Part of US President Donald Trump’s campaign promise was to reform NAFTA, and revise to deal to better benefit American workers and manufacturers, but Mexico and Canada have stated it would undermine the values of the over two-decade old deal.

Published by Nova News

Click here to support independent media!