It’s time we admit a sad truth. Nearly everyone on Capitol Hill belongs to one political party. They don’t have a lot of choice. It is how they get their jobs. It’s how they keep their jobs, and if they buck the trend a little too much, it’s how they lose why they lose their jobs. Yes America has fallen on one champion of liberty and capitalism. The Green Party.
119 million. 50 million. 47 million. 36 million. No, this is not the Green Party of Ralph Nader. This is the Party of Money. Those numbers are what Meg Whitman (California Gubernatorial candidate), Linda McMahon (Connecticut Senate candidate), American’s for Prosperity, and American Crossroads (both conservative political groups) have spent or are planning on spending on this election. Two candidates, and two political groups plan to spend 252 million dollars. 169 million on just two races. The Center for Public Integrity estimates over 500 million dollars is going to be spent by independent, mostly Republican leaning, groups this year. It takes money to get elected and politician’s look for it wherever it can be found. Money works in two ways. It can be given to a specific candidate and they can use it to support their campaign. There are rules about how much you can contribute to one candidate though. The other option is give it to Karl Rove.
Okay, not just Karl Rove, but he’s a good example. Rove and some big-time Republican guys formed a group called American Crossroads. They’ve been fund-raising and paying for attack ads all over the place. American Crossroads tax status requires it to disclose donors however, so they formed a spin-off called Crossroads GPS. It’s tax status allows it to keep donations secret while somewhat limiting its political activities. So if you happen to be a billionaire anarchist (I’m looking at you Koch brothers) you can spend willy-nilly and not upend the credibility of a group trying to connect with the Tea Party movement. This combined with the recent Supreme Court ruling unleashing corporate money on the political world and what we have is a country where money is God.
The worst part is that corporate interest and special interest already ruled politicians. What the Supreme Court did just completely opened a floodgate that was already mostly open. Republicans and Democrats have relied on special interests to help them win elections for a long time before 2010. Groups spanning the spectrum from the NRA to the NEA have long been trying to affect elections. When they “win, they tell Senators and Representatives, from state to federal, “We helped you win now you help us. The whole thing has spiraled out of control. The result is that other than your vote for the guy with a D or the guy with and R is the small piece of power you have but once their in they don’t really care about you. You don’t have a ton of money.
So, I am proposing two things to put power back into the hands of the people who politicians are supposed to represent. The first is just an expansion on something that already exists. I believe that any advertisement that is meant to affect an election should have a candidates approval. I think if the ACLU or Commonsense Ten wants to run an ad in your election somebody should put their name and face on it. I think we’d see a change in advertising if candidates had to take full responsibility for it.
The second can be summed up like this. If you don’t have a Social Security number you can’t contribute to a political campaign. That means Wal-Mart, Microsoft, or Africa for all I care. can’t influence our elections. People will immediately tell me I’m destroying free speech. Tea Partiers will be outraged because the corporations that fund them will also be outraged. The hypocrisy of the Right is that they are willing to dismiss giving constitutional rights to terrorists but willing to give them to corporations, who are not people. If anyone can make a solid argument that when the Constitution was written they intended to give constitutional rights to corporations, I’ll listen. The Right always says we should follow what the Founders intended. Well, the didn’t intend on money equaling free speech for conglomerates. Conglomerates didn’t exist. Free speech is about individuals not being persecuted by the government for their thoughts and beliefs. As Aaron Sorkin wrote in “The American President” :
“You want free speech? Lets see you acknowledge a man whose words make you blood boil and is standing center stage advocating that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”
Free speech was and is about public discussion without the fear of repercussion. The ability to say everything you believe, without the thought that government can harm you for it. I live in Kansas where I have for my entire life tolerated Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. I tolerate them so that I know I can write this without consequence. It has nothing to do with money. The people who vote are who should be represented by elected officials; not business, not political action committees. We have to take the money out of politics so that “ a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this Earth.”