We need money to fight money

Some Bernie supporters are posting memes about how terrible that awful liberal George Clooney is. Did you hear? He hosted a fundraiser for Democrats where rich people paid a lot of money to eat with celebrities. And then that money went to Democratic candidates across the nation (including Hillary — apparently that was the part they disliked the most).politifact-photos-ClooneyNBCscreenshot

Now, I understand the complaint that we need campaign finance reform and that the system is bad because so much money is needed to campaign. In fact, George Clooney agrees. “I think it’s an obscene amount of money,” he said.

But the fact is that in order to change the system — to get rid of Citizens United and to enact campaign finance reform — we need to win. And how do you win? With money. It’s a vicious circle.

Come on, you know the Republicans are doing this, too. If we didn’t raise as much as we could, too, we’re giving up before we even start. And it doesn’t help us at all if we’re protesting ourselves. We can’t laugh at how stupid the Republican candidates are being for attacking each other constantly while we’re doing the same thing.

Money in and of itself isn’t evil. And there’s nothing wrong with being rich. The problem is in how you get the money and what you use it for.

I support Bernie, really I do, but some of his supporters are making it difficult. They complain about party rules that have been in place for over 40 years while they’ve done nothing to change them, and they often don’t understand how it all works — they confuse the rules for the primary elections with rules for the general election and just kind of look naive.

In many ways I am an idealist as well but I think it’s important to be an informed idealist.

The Real Reason there are So Many Republican Candidates (Hint: $$$)

A few weeks ago, I speculated as to why there were so many declared candidates for the Republican nomination. Seriously, there have never been this many in the history of our country. Never. What is different about this year?

The answer is, of course, money.DC-Misc-Cartoon-Simpsons-Quimby-w-Money-Bag

Previously, there were laws limiting how much money an individual could contribute to a campaign. In order to run a legitimate campaign, you’d need lots of money from lots of different people. If you couldn’t raise that, you just couldn’t compete.

Now, thanks to the Supreme Court handing our democracy over the super rich (in the Citizen’s United case), there is no limit.

And now we’re seeing the result of that terrible decision. You no longer need to appeal to a broad base of supporters to be a legitimate candidate. One billionaire with enough money can keep your campaign going.

They’re buying the election. A very small percentage of Americans are choosing their candidates, betting on their favorite to win. Those who are trying to appeal to a larger segment have to work twice as hard.

And so what happens? You got it — the candidates say whatever the billionaires buying them want them to say. No need to try to get the support of the majority of Republican voters. All you need is Sheldon Adelson or the Koch Brothers to like you and you’re in.

So you can suck it up and just admit we are now living in an oligarchy instead of a democracy…

Or you could fight to elect a Democrat who will hopefully be able to change one vote on the Supreme Court to reverse that awful decision, or even convince enough states to pass an amendment saying “money is not speech.”

When we became an oligarchy

An oligarchy is a government run by a small group of elitists;  in our case, the very rich.  (In which case, perhaps the better term is a plutocracy.)  Today’s Supreme Court ruling was the final deciding factor.

How did we get here, in a place that Teddy Roosevelt warned us about?    money

1.  Reagan’s tax cuts.  It started under Reagan when the tax rates on the super rich were dropped tremendously.  Soon after this, we started going into great debt (unnecessary wars didn’t help any).  Infrastructure started falling apart, education was cut, opportunities started vanishing, and they took the middle class with them.  And the rich got even richer and, therefore, more powerful.

2.  The removal of regulations.  Reagan again.  From the very beginning, our economy went through periods of prosperity and crash, on the average of every seventeen years.  There was the Panic of 1819, the 1837 Crisis, the Panic of 1873, the Panic of 1893, the 1907 Banker’s Panic, and so on up to the Great Depression. Then Franklin Roosevelt put in controls and restrictions on Wall Street and banking and lo and behold, no depressions and no recessions for fifty years. Reagan comes in and removes those and bang! The S&L crisis, the 2001 recession, the 2007 Mortgage crisis, and the 2008 Bush collapse.  But more importantly, the lack of regulations produced less competition as huge businesses and banks gobbled up smaller ones and created monopolies.  This gives us great income inequality, where the vast majority of wealth in America is concentrated in the very few at a level comparable to the period before the French revolution.

3.  Gerrymandering.  This isn’t new, but it has gotten so absurd that it keeps those in power there, with hardly any challenges to incumbents.  Therefore, there is no one “stirring up the pot” and bringing in new blood to change things.  In certain districts, it is impossible for the other party to challenge the incumbent party.  This is terrible for democracy, which — like capitalism — needs competition to survive.

4.  The removal of campaign contribution limits.  With Citizen’s United and today’s McCutcheon decision, the Supreme Court has vested power in the filthiest rich at the expense of the rest of us.  You have to be daft to deny that money is power, and what these decisions do is to create the two great fictions that “corporations are people” and “money is speech.”  This means those in power now have even more means to keep themselves in power, by being able to spend unlimited, uncontrolled, and unregulated money in politics.

Because, according to the Supreme Court, if you bribe a politician quietly behind the scenes, it’s a crime.  But if you do it as a campaign contribution anonymously, it’s protected speech.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say on this latest nail in democracy’s coffin but for now I am just too angry to think.

Supreme Court ready to once again side with corporations over people

Based on the arguments presented at the Supreme Court today in the Hobby Lobby case, the conservative members of the Supreme Court once more appear ready to hold that corporations have more rights than people.  This is not a surprise to anyone who follows the court.

New U.S. Supreme Court Poses For "Class Photo"

It seems that corporations are people, and a corporation can have a religion.  What’s more, their religion is more powerful than your religion, and if you work for them, they can force their religious views on you.

Where is this in the Constitution?  Ha ha!  Didn’t you read the word “corporation”?  That’s all you need to know to determine how Scalia and his pals will vote.

The more liberal members of the Court (the three women especially) questioned how you could determine a corporation’s religion.  “How does a corporation exercise religion?” Sotomayor asked.  A poll of shareholders?  What about shareholders that do not share the same religion as the CEO?

Opponents rightfully pointed out that this could lead to corporations deciding that they could use their religion to justify firing all gays, prohibiting women from working, and otherwise taking away our basic rights.

This has the possibility of rising to the level of “terrible decisions” reached only previously by the Citizen’s United decision which found two fictions to be law:  that not only are corporations people, but  money is speech — therefore corporations have the right to speech much greater than those of us poor individuals.

Well, it will be the most terrible decision until the Supreme Court tops it with the follow-up case later this year that holds that individual limitations on campaign contributions are also invalid … at which time it may just be easier to allow the billionaires to vote for us.