One thing is clear: the value of the vote is being marginalized with every independent expenditure flashing through the airwaves, filling our ears and eyes with caustically meaningless drivel.
And we're only seeing more of it.
Read more below the fold, or read the original post at the blog.
Take the Koch brothers, for instance. These billionaire conservative brothers were handed a fortune from daddy, and have turned their industrialist corporatism outward, attacking the foundations of democracy as we know it. In January "The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics identified a coalition of allied conservative groups active in the 2012 elections that together raised at least $407 million, backed by a donor network organized by the industrialists Charles and David Koch. Most of the funds originated with two groups, the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and TC4 Trust, both of which routed some of the money through a Phoenix-based nonprofit group called the Center to Protect Patient Rights (CPPR)" (Washington Post). Charles and David Koch, along with their industrial giant, Koch Industries have also shelled out at least $5.8 million to state, federal, and local campaigns since 1994. That doesn't even include independent expenditures.
On the left, there's a concerted effort to counter the Koch brothers' huge spending in elections: throw more money at it. Tom Steyer, environmental activist billionaire, is planning on spending up to $100 million in the 2014 mid-term elections, countering the Koch's anti-environment, pro-industry politicking with an environmentalist fundraising organization "similar in scale to the conservative political network overseen by Charles and David Koch" (New York Times). Former New York billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg is another "donor-doer," using his personal wealth to advance a political agenda.
Further, now a Democratic PAC, the Senate Majority PAC, is going to spend $3 million to target the Koch brothers head on, utilizing millions of dollars raised from wealthy individual donors, taking $2.5 million from former Mayor Bloomberg, $500,000 from David Boies and his wife, $150 from Jon Stryker, and a scattering of $100,000 contributions from wealthy liberals. (USA Today and FEC).
Don't get me wrong. I understand that politics requires the dissemination of information, which requires money. But, by focusing our efforts on a monetary arms race of underhanded, manipulative rhetoric, we are simply alienating ourselves further from any hope of an egalitarian republic. We are furthering the notion that wealth is right, wealth guarantees rights, and that rights are meaningless without wealth. Many large money interests want to see certain folks elected, but most just want to buy favor with whomever they can to weasel their way into public office without any of the stress of a campaign. I understand that climate change necessitates an all-out effort from poor and rich alike to change the way we act. I understand that the other side is trying to undermine centuries of human progress. But the means we're using will obliterate the ends.
If we allow the idea to continue, that money is speech, that corporations have the same rights as people, that the wealthy do not need to pay their fair share to the public, then we are doomed as a nation. If we can proliferate contributions and expenditures by every day Americans and promote the idea that people, not money, ought to rule the political and elector system, we can revolutionize the way business is conducted in our legislative chambers. We can reclaim the government, we just have to put in the effort and avoid temptation to play their game.
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