The Bishop Is Crossing.. aka The Hunger Games have begun but who is on the menu?: Time to get money
Record numbers of American tuned into the GOP Fox News Debate so now the election silly season has officially begun. Watching the “debate” which was really an exercise in “soundbite-chasing” or “viral-whoring”, meanwhile true issues facing the nation were not addressed in any substantial manner.
The political discourse in this country is more and more becoming some sort of a dog and pony show and less of an exchange of ideas. Of course the start of the night was the ultimate celebrity whore Mr. Donald Trump.
Donald is leading in the polls and it is reported by several media outlets that he won the debate. And the reason he is doing so well is because the American people know that the politicians are bought and paid for and thus beholden to special interest groups. “The Donald” despite his faults is for the most part his own man.
The truth came out when Trump went on his egotistical rant about how when he pays people they do what he says. Furthermore he admitted to giving large sums of money to virtually every one of his opponents who shared the stage with him. The highlight for me was when Ohio Governor John Kasich said: “Not me but I would like some!”. This is the state of affairs in our nation we no longer have a democracy we have something close to feudalism. The culture of “political brotheltry” on both sides of the isle leads to the political debate being restricted to the margins while basic foundation of our way of life is ready to collapse.
With so many pressing issues in our nation where do we begin?
There is no shortage of crises or looming questions that desperately needs our attention. But for many Americans it is hard to choose which is more prominent. Is it climate change? The high levels of carbon emissions threaten human kind’s very existence. Should the electorate’s number one question be how do we adapt? I would say that is probably for me at the top of the list.
What about police overreach and brutality? For my people police terror goes back to the slave patrols and fugitive slave act. The GOP debate gave only passing mention to the #BlackLivesMatter: movement. The was an interesting exchange between Chris Christie and Rand Paul on civil liberties and The 4th Amendment, but of course it was framed in the context of fighting “terrorism” when average Americans of all races are living daily with 4th and 5th Amendment violations.
What about jobs and income inequality? Our economy is in desperate need of restructuring due in part to globalization, technological advances and several other factors.
The remedies for all of these issues require political courage and statesmanship that is virtually absent in both the two major parties. Real substantive change in fact is if not impossible, it is highly improbable due the increasingly common practice of corporate capture of regulatory agencies and of course the influence of “moneyed” interests on candidates both Democratic and Republican.
So the number one issue facing the United States and by extension the world is money in politics. If the GOP did nothing else it did highlight inadvertently the problem. You have 17 people running for a position that all but maybe 3 have no chance of winning or have the qualifications. The only reason they can participate is they have the money or the connections to the money to essentially “pay to play”.
The solution is simple folks, we need real campaign finance reform and ultimately publicly funded elections. It will take a constitutional amendment to do it too. Due to the nature of the Supreme Court and congress’s inability or unwillingness to reign the court in the only option we have is an amendment that says two things. First “corporations are not people” and secondly “money is not speech it is property”.
How did we get here??
The quagmire that we are in all started on a mistake made back in 1886 in The Supreme Court case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. In this case a head-note written by the court reporter stated that application of the 14th amendment applied to corporations. A court reporter only summarizes the decisions for public consumption to make decisions available for future citations. No one knows if this mistake was intentional or just human error but the damage was done. The court never said corporations have such protections; in fact Chief Justice Waite had said the court would not rule on the issue of equal protection for corporations.
This error lead to subsequent citations which established the case law that enabled courts to grant equal personhood status to corporations which were previously enjoyed only by natural human persons. Corporations were only granted by the state some “personhood” rights for the purposes of liability and redress of grievances.
However thanks to cases such as Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and the infamous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), Corporations are now “people my friend” as said by Mitt Romney, with the first amendment right of free speech and apparently also some freedom of religious expression as well pursuant to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014).
The Citizen United case opened the door to unlimited spending on “issues” and just last year the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case will make it possible for corporations and wealthy individuals to give to an infinite number of politicians on all levels of government including themselves (enter Donald Trump).
Corporations have large resources that can be funneled to candidates thus giving an unfair advantage to corporate friendly candidates. In addition with the global nature of today’s economy it is obvious that these corporations are not fully “American” thereby allowing foreign entities to play a part in our political process. This is dangerous and a cancer to our Democracy.
I have a small business and I believe corporations should be granted the privilege of some personhood status but there should be a distinction that is clear cut between artificial persons and human beings.
The court asserted in the Citizen United case that the only way corporations can speak is through the use of money, a part of me can see that in some instances corporations should be allowed to “express themselves”. Advertising, public relations, publicity are all reasonable uses of expression for corporations. However in my opinion the political arena should be limited to real human persons.
This issue of money in politics is not simply a result of corporate personhood of course. Lobby groups, Public Action Committees, even Labor Union contributions all need limits or to be abolished.
It really is “The Rich & The Rest Of Us” and empirical data backs it up..
A recent Princeton university study revealed that the policies and legislation proposed and or passed by our government rarely reflects the policies that the majority of Americans want.
Professors Gilens and Page looked at laws and policies which were collected between 1981 and 2002 to empirically determine what policy prescriptions get the attention of our law makers. After studying almost 1,800 U.S. policies enacted over the past two decades and then comparing them to the preferences of average Americans within the 50th percentile of income, the affluent within the 90th percentile, and the large special interests groups, they concluded that the U.S. is dominated by its economic elite.
The Princeton report scientifically provided evidence for what many Americans intuitively know already, our political system has been captured by big business (in other words “the game is rigged”).This influence has led to changes in antitrust enforcement, financial regulation and media consolidation.
Banks are too big to fail or jail, the media is heavily concentrated with one or two conglomerates owning multiply outlets. When coupled with the removal of the fairness doctrine, the “news” has become infotainment and our populace is either uninformed or misinformed. The proof is shown with MSNBC dismissing every show and anchor that was critical to the Transpacific Partnership and net neutrality.
President Obama promised to close the revolving door between the public and private sector and never did.. The Oligarchs are too powerful
Follow the Money People..
The founders intended that government would be participatory and a well informed and well educated public was paramount to this endeavor.
The revolving door between the government sector and the private sector spins with impunity. Political appointees come from the same industries they regulate then go back after they leave office. Congressman “champion” favorable bills to corporate interests then “retire” and sit on a board of directors making six figures for the same company that benefited from their legislation. President Obama’s former Attorney General Eric Holder was a big time defense attorney that defending Wall Street criminality. Holder didn’t put one “bankster” in jail did he? In fact he returned to his old firm Covington & Burling news outlets have reported that they even kept his old office vacate during his tenure in Washington.
There used to be a word for when government interests and corporate interests are married; Fascism! And if the way our country polices its poorest and brownest citizens it is apparent that we are heading towards an authoritative version of fascism.
Our only hope
It’s time for the commons or the public sphere to be clearly defined. We need a firewall between government and the private sector. The key to achieving this is to have public funding of campaigns and an amendment that clearly defines the person-hood status of corporations and that money and its use can be regulated by congress. This is what should be debated between any of our potential presidents. Until we propose and pass such an amendment unfortunately I feel there is little hope for real fundamental progress to all of our problems.
#GOP #Trump #FoxNewsDebate #MovetoAmend #MoneyinPolitics #MSNBC #2015Elections #CitizensUnited #EricHolder #Blacklivesmatter #Politics #TheSupremeCourt #ThomHartmann #UnEqualProtection #TheBishopiscrossing #TheBishopisCrossing