Column for 31 October, 2010

DEMOCRACY FOR SALE?

 

“Is he not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’ and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’ who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of His hands?”

–Job 34:18-19

 

The other great (and largely ignored) story of the 2010 elections, other than raving paranoia, is the unholy flood of secret corporate money.  Thanks to radical Right Wing judicial activists on the Supreme Court, the largest corporations in America are now empowered to dump unlimited amounts of money to purchase candidates.  And we the voters have no right to know how much money is being spent, or even where it comes from, as the donors hide behind benign-sounding special interest groups and the candidates are too cowardly to admit who is holding their leashes.  The US Chamber of Commerce, despite its’ homey name, is actually a clearing house, laundering money for foreign corporations to influence American politics.  Yes, surprisingly enough, Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito was either hopelessly naïve or deliberately lying when he mouthed “not true” to President Obama during the State of the Union.  Mega-banks and other beneficiaries of the awful Bush Bailout (and the slightly less awful Obama Bailout) are dumping money on, you guessed it, Congressional Republicans.  The top recipients of donations from companies that received TARP funds are John Boehner, Minority Whip Eric Cantor, and the Ranking GOP Members of the financial services and tax-writing committees.  Once upon a time, the Republic Party championed the idea of full disclosure of political donations and expenditures, as an alternative to progressive proposals to limit both.  Now?  Not so much.  With the GOP on the receiving end of the cash cornucopia, Karl Rove expresses righteous indignation at the very idea that mere peasants would dare to ask for the names of the corporations and billionaires that are buying their country out from under them.  The nerve! As much as two billion dollars will be spent this cycle, an unprecedented amount, dwarfing even the obscene spending of the 2008 presidential election.  The airwaves in battleground states and media markets are saturated with negative ads, designed not to persuade so much as to depress turnout.  How corrosive is this to democracy?  Consider Karl Denninger, a former CEO and financial blogger who was one of the founders of the Tea Party movement.  In his own words, “The Tea Party was initiated as a political protest against the unlawful and in fact unconstitutional usurpation of power from the Congress and The People in the form of extortion-led bailouts of enterprises that had engaged in acts that I, and many others, believe were at least civilly actionable and in many cases crossed the line into criminal activity.”  Now, the movement has been hijacked by billionaires like David and Charles Koch of Koch Industries and the Mellon fortune (of Richard Mellon Scaife fame, the underwriter of the war against Bill Clinton), with the overwhelming majority of the funds funneled right back into GOP-affiliated consultant firms.  All anti-Wall Street talk has been purged, and so-called “Tea Party” candidates actively campaign on repealing even the mild reforms that passed Congress over unanimous Republican opposition.  Denninger denounces Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Bob Barr and the others who have subverted his righteous protest as “jokes.”  Tea Party candidates are either jokes like Christine O’Donnell, lunatics like Sharon Angle and Rand Paul (with his cadre of thugs to stomp on the heads of anyone who dares to ask him a question) or crooks like Joe Miller and Rick Scott.  That is the power of money, the power to turn a grassroots rebellion against the mega-banks and corporations who very nearly destroyed the entire world’s economy into an astro-turf cheerleading squad for those very oligarchs.  The question is, what are YOU going to do about it?

 

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Published in: on October 29, 2010 at 3:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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