Why Removing Money and Lobbying from Politics is the Only Thing that Matters Today

honeywell_intl.jpgBy Joseph Glatzer

 

 

So, why indeed? Well, let’s think about this logically. We can start from the premise that America’s political system is bought and paid for by the richest corporations and individuals. Those with the most money to contribute to (bribe) politicians have the most influence. So, necessarily, those who don’t have vast sums of money to influence the political process are left out in the cold.

“Democracy” is a cute little game they give us to vote every few years and stay apathetic and uninformed between elections. Thus, voting doesn’t make a difference anymore, if it ever did. I implore every American to refrain from voting in most elections, especially the presidential election. This is because voting in the corrupt system we have adds legitimacy to it, and this is counterproductive.

So, what is the alternative?

MANDATORY Public Financing

It is clear that we need mandatory public financing of political elections in the United States.

I say “mandatory” because some lowlives like to say “We used to have public financing before Citizens United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” So, I have to be specific now so I don’t get stuck in their little trap. Just to clarify, of course we didn’t have a public financing system before Citizens United. We had something where corporations and wealthy individuals could give unlimited bribes to political parties, but there were limits on bribes to political candidates. Notice I use the word bribe instead of donation, because that is exactly what they are -- bribes. So, the system has been corrupt forever, ever since politicians got money from the public to fund their campaigns, which is forever, of course.

If you bring up Citizens United as the breaking point, you are part of the problem

So, what we need is not a cute little limit on corporate bribes to politicians, or a cap on bribes to parties, or anything like that. What we need is to end bribery in its entirety!

But how is this to be accomplished when the politicians are not going to do it because they are integrated into the corrupt system?

The first thing to do is totally ignore and denounce any efforts by corrupt Democrat party politicians passing symbolic measures against the Citizens United ruling or introducing weak amendments to the House or Senate floor to ban or limit this or that. These are tiny measures designed to placate and distract the public from the very real fight we have ahead of us. They want you to be fooled into thinking their small adjustments will solve everything. This line of thinking must be fought tooth and nail.

The people have to do it themselves. This means that we need to go after a constitutional amendment.

Aside from the typical method of a 2/3 majority vote in both houses of Congress, there is another way. The second way, which has never been used to date, is to have 2/3 of the states ask Congress to call for a constitutional convention to propose amendments. According to my math, that adds up to 33 states.

Although this is obviously a huge task and one which will take years to accomplish, it is more doable than the other method.

Why? Because state politicians are not necessarily less corrupt than federal politicians, but they are closer and more accountable to the people. It is easier to have contact with these representatives and to have access to them as a regular constituent than it is to get access to federal level Congresspeople and Senators. Also, in states like California there are term limits on state Assemblypeople and state senators. This Wikipedia page has a listing of states with term limits.

Also, another advantage of taking this angle, at least in states such as California, is that we have the initiative process. We can change the law by getting a certain amount of signatures and getting it approved by voters on the ballot. Potentially, Californians could put an initiative on the ballot which creates a public financing system for all elections in California. An initiative could ask the U.S. Congress for a constitutional convention, as outlined above.  It is unclear if they would respect such a request, but its symbolic value would be worthwhile in itself.

This Wikipedia page has a listing of the U.S. states with initiative systems in place. The map is a good way to see where change is probably the most possible. If my count is correct, there are 26 states with initiatives. Getting these states to pass initiatives mandating or imploring their congress to ask the federal congress for a constitutional convention and banning lobbying and enacting mandatory public financing systems in their states would be an excellent start in the fight for a federal constitutional amendment.

The great thing about this strategy is that you can change state election laws along the way to create momentum. So, if you have for example 15 or 20 states with mandatory public financing of elections, this will create real momentum and pressure on the other states to similarly pass amendments to their state constitutions and hopefully ask the federal congress to convene that magical constitutional convention.

State-by-state reform is a process I have stronger faith in that one which starts federally. Even Canadian Medicare (their universal care national health service) had to be started on a provincial basis. This is an interesting site from the Canadian Government describing the long and painful process which finally resulted in provincial Medicare in Saskatchewan in 1962. It wasn’t adopted nationally until 1968. So, let this be a lesson that the provincial/state based method to progressive change can be very effective.

Predictably, most of the states without an initiative process are the former slave states, otherwise known as the American South. Let’s look at another relevant example for this state-based strategy for change: gay marriage. If someone told you 15 years ago that in 2012 six states would have legalized gay marriage, you would have called them crazy. But this is what happened. And there are several more states with bills or cases in the pipeline which could legalize it, and add to that that persistent activism has forced Obama to stop defending DOMA in lawsuits. Do you think this success would’ve happened if advocates were starting at the federal level and trying to repeal DOMA, not going state by state? I think not!

Does anyone in the Wolf PAC community have any comments or ideas about this topic?

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Showing 5 reactions

commented 2012-10-05 07:09:04 -0400 · Flag
That boycott idea was a total failure in my opinion. They hoped to gain momentum and some spotlight on the global arena, but nothing happened. What did happen was a 70%-ish turnout and an overwhelming victory of the ruling party. They ended up looking dumb and being pantsless (a local expression).

The corruption of the American system is a whole new level than the other countries you mentioned. It is fueled by money, media, drugs and lies. You Americans like to call it „Crony Capitalism“ (my personal opinion is that the „crony capitalism“ is capitalism in it’s pure form, but that’s a different story). How do they keep winning? Easy. They have the ultimate brainwashing machine, the media.

I understand that we can’t rely on the loopholes we find in the current system. And not that I am inciting revolution here, but sometimes if something is really broken or off, you just have to get rid of it and start over. You know, the gun nuts in the US always say that they need the 2nd ammendment to protect themselves (from the government). Well, how about now? But more than that I am hoping that the new generation that’s growing up right now is more awake than the people of the Raegan era. Their guns are mainstream media and riot gear. Our guns are cameras, internet and awareness. We win the long run.

Indeed. The American presidential system is a bit primitive. One of the main rules of democracy is that the 3 powers must be separated. I am not really seeing that in the USA. In other democratic countries (EU, for instance) the president/monarch is just a pretty face, a walking business card.

One more thing that you Americans need to get rid of is the two-party system/dictature. But I assume it’s something that will follow with the $ removal from politics.

Ah, thank you. I hope to see blog posts from you soon and I will try coming up with something myself as well.
commented 2012-10-05 07:08:35 -0400 · Flag
That boycott idea was a total failure in my opinion. They hoped to gain momentum and some spotlight on the global arena, but nothing happened. What did happen was a 70%-ish turnout and an overwhelming victory of the ruling party. They ended up looking dumb and being pantsless (a local expression).

The corruption of the American system is a whole new level than the other countries you mentioned. It is fueled by money, media, drugs and lies. You Americans like to call it „Crony Capitalism“ (my personal opinion is that the „crony capitalism“ is capitalism in it’s pure form, but that’s a different story). How do they keep winning? Easy. They have the ultimate brainwashing machine, the media.

I understand that we can’t rely on the loopholes we find in the current system. And not that I am inciting revolution here, but sometimes if something is really broken or off, you just have to get rid of it and start over. You know, the gun nuts in the US always say that they need the 2nd ammendment to protect themselves (from the government). Well, how about now? But more than that I am hoping that the new generation that’s growing up right now is more awake than the people of the Raegan era. Their guns are mainstream media and riot gear. Our guns are cameras, internet and awareness. We win the long run.

Indeed. The American presidential system is a bit primitive. One of the main rules of democracy is that the 3 powers must be separated. I am not really seeing that in the USA. In other democratic countries (EU, for instance) the president/monarch is just a pretty face, a walking business card.

One more thing that you Americans need to get rid of is the two-party system/dictature. But I assume it’s something that will follow with the $ removal from politics.

Ah, thank you. I hope to see blog posts from you soon and I will try coming up with something myself as well.
commented 2012-10-03 00:54:52 -0400 · Flag
Appreciate your responses, and it is good to engage with people who are similarly concerned as I am with the corrupt and broken political system.

Hi Mor: You really summed up what I was going for in the first few paragraphs. Politicians and the establishment are working overtime to try and trick the public, especially people like us, with half-measures which will get us nowhere.

If we are not going to take down this corrupt system in its entirety (making the revolving door illegal, making it illegal for corporations to be considered people, and most importantly the mandatory public financing of all elections and the complete ban on all donations to politicians running for office) then we are wasting our time. Why? Because, if you leave any wiggle room whatsoever, the lobbyists will use it to make any reform attempt utterly irrelevant. So I agree with your sentiment of vigilance completely.

Respectfully, not voting and not caring are two different things. Not voting and not being engaged are also not the same thing. I will make one point in this regard. It is a well known tactic of voters and opposition parties in corrupt regimes to boycott elections to deny legitimacy to the results. It is to send a message to the world that the election taking place is farcical and that it should not be taken seriously as democracy. In Belarus very recently the majority of the country and the opposition parties boycotted the sham election (http://news.yahoo.com/belarus-says-election-turnout-strong-despite-opposition-boycott-235521017.html). The following wikipedia article offers an incomplete list of boycotted elections (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Election_boycott).

Although it may be unpleasant to compare the US to some of the countries on the list, I would argue that America’s elections are just as corrupt as these others, and the strategy of boycotting is as valid to use in the US as it is in Belarus or Syria, etc. The only difference is we have a multi-billion 3-4 year long paid infomercial for “democracy” called the presidential campaign. It’s a sophisticated propaganda exercise designed to convince Americans and the world that America is a big democracy, and you are a bad person if you do not take part in this historic and wonderful democracy. Perhaps I will write a separate blog outlining my not voting stance in more detail.

I agree that states with initiatives are not the only states to focus on. I view it as a logical starting point, but I think you are probably right about California being a tough one. We have too many astroturf corporation funded initiatives here and you have to have a lot of money to get your initiative on the ballot and run commercials to publicize it, etc. I think Vermont would be a good place to start because it has a very left wing populace and it is a very small state. RE: term limits; I am much more concerned about limiting money in politics than limiting terms. Maybe there wouldn’t be a need for term limits if there is a limit on money already.

Daniil: I understand how it can seem that not voting is a recipe for apathy and naive. I probably would’ve thought that myself a few years ago. But, I think sometimes, when you’re working with a corrupt political system where money matters over everything else, that voting can be the naive and apathetic thing to do. Not in all cases, but just something to consider.

I sort of outlined above why I think withholding your vote is an affirmative and positive step at times, because this withholds legitimacy from the political system. Without legitimacy the system is nothing. But, alternatively I would advocate voting for 3rd party candidates. I think this has the same effect of denying legitimacy to the 2 parties.

But, I agree with you about using loopholes in the system. I think about this pragmatically. I am not in principle against using any tools of the formal political system to make change, but I am certain that exclusively relying on these tools will result in failure. Running “good democrats” doesn’t work. Kucinich lost his seat and Norman Soloman couldn’t even win a primary in one of the most left wing districts in the country. In my opinion, the system is almost completely impervious to change from the inside.

So, yeah, I think initiatives are the way to go in many cases. So, in regards to your term limits comment I think this brings up an interesting point and this is something I will probably write a blog item on soon. The mandatory public financing of campaigns is a starting point, not the end. Getting the $ out of politics opens the way to actually make changes in all the areas we care about. So, one change in the political system which I think is really important is instituting a parliamentary proportional representation system. We need to get rid of the presidency and have a Prime Minister instead. A Prime Minister is only able to run the government if they have a working majority to get legislation through. In other words no more gridlock. The American system is so ridiculous for this reason. In no other country that I know of is it possible to have a government which doesn’t have a working majority. It is astounding.

Anyways, there are many examples in Western and Northern European countries where the Prime Minister serves for 2,3, or 4 terms. This is what happens as long as their party has a majority in the Parliament. So, I think you have an excellent point with your last comment. So, ideally, each state’s governor would be a state premier instead, and each state would have a unitary parliament similar to the national system.
commented 2012-09-27 07:47:22 -0400 · Flag
We have a difficult struggle ahead of us, we can’t compromise and allow any loopholes or we might as well have failed and used up all our energy and attention span. Even after we pass the amendment, we’re headed for at least another decade of the corporations throwing a fit trying to find a way back, while we pass all the necessary laws to make sure they share the tax burden, and not the welfare. We will need to stay alert, informed, organized, and proactive that whole time. And then when they finally give up we still need to remain vigilant – for ever – or go back to the way things were. I think that’s the kind of message you’re trying to send with the first couple of paragraphs, Joseph, and I agree and that’s also why I agree with Daniil and think the “no voting” comment is unnecessary and promotes the wrong attitude.

As for your words on strategy. That’s a good case for going through the states, and very useful information on each state’s legislative system. I would just add that I don’t think we need to limit ourselves and focus only on the states with initiatives. I don’t think people pay nearly as much attention to state legislatures. The moment they do, it won’t matter so much how many terms state senators serve. Why not focus on smaller states than California, where it’s easier to inform and mobilize the whole electorate. How about Vermont, Arkansas, Wisconsin etc.?
commented 2012-09-27 04:44:07 -0400 · Flag
I love the idea of public financing. And I have for a long time now. But there are a few points that made my mind a little uneasy.
First, not voting at all won’t fix the problem. I view this as a little childish and naive: “WE WILL DEFEAT THE SYSTEM IF WE JUST DON’T GIVE A DARN HARD ENOUGH!” I view that people should actually use the broken system to find loopholes of their own. And as I advanced in the reading of the article, I found that you had already pointed out the same idea I just brought up. Cause the initiative the people have in some states, are the exact “loopholes” we can use.
Second thing, to be completely honest, I don’t really approve of the absolute term limit. How I view it, governors will actually be demotivated to do any good and live like there’s no tomorrow. “After me, the flood” (“Après moi, le déluge”).

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