MONEY IN POLITICS

If you wonder why things are so slow to change or do not change at all, follow the money in politics.

Money has had a corrupting influence in politics for centuries.

Teddy Roosevelt over a century ago began to reform the political system by breaking up the trusts. He also spoke eloquently of the need to control and regulate the amount of money that is spent in politics and who is allowed to spend it.

Teddy Roosevelt spoke about how no corporation should be allowed to contribute a single dime to a political committee or to a candidate due to their undue influence.

Laws were passed, for example, Montana passed laws to limit the corrupting influence of the copper barons due to the fact that those copper barons basically owned the local politicians.

The fundamental fact eloquently stated by Lord Acton is still true today. He said that power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. If you look at the fact that over 1 billion dollars was spent in our last presidential campaign you can see that something is wrong with the way we choose candidates. The candidate who raises the most money usually wins an election. In fact the candidate with the most money normally wins 93% of the time. A modern day corollary to Lord Acton’s quote should be that money corrupts and a lot of money corrupts absolutely.

A little over 2 years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States in a case entitled Citizens United held that Corporations are people, imbued with the same inalienable rights as people under the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. This case along with an earlier companion case which held that money is speech has by their decisions greatly threatened our Republic. How can ordinary citizens compete with the very wealthy and corporations in being heard and listened to?

Justice Stevens in his dissent spoke about how this case gives an inordinate amount of power to corporations and that the case undid a near century of precedent. By giving corporations a human quality and undoing laws that controlled the corrupting influence of money from corporate contributors, the court has opened the flood gates , and the pocket books of not only large corporations but of wealthy individual contributions to campaigns. How can people, individual citizens compete with corporations in our ability to spend money if indeed money is speech? The answer is that we can’t.

When I grew up I always thought that money was property.

Corporations are not people and Citizens United should be overturned. The only way that we can take back our country and accomplish the goal of repudiating Citizens United is to pass a constitutional amendment that simply states that corporations are not people with the same rights as we the people.

We now have PACS and now recently SUPERPACS, all with the ability to spend millions and millions of dollars to buy votes. We see in Washington, D.C. and in all of our state capitals the work that lobbyists do to wine and dine and influence our representatives.

This is not to say that lobbyists should not be able to talk and say what they wish in public about issues, but let’s face it they have a much bigger say because they have the big bucks, that do influence our representatives

There is an amendment now in the Senate that deserves our support. If we the people are to recapture our country and to once again have a say in our futures we must overturn Citizen United.

After all, our representatives are supposed to be there in Washington to represent we the people not we the corporations.

Until we pass a constitutional amendment, we are powerless as a people and as a nation to see changes that we need and want because we have the best Congress that money can buy.

There are two quotes that are relevant, President Truman once said that he had two choices in life, he could have been a piano player in a whore house or a politician and he didn’t see much difference in the two.

Will Rogers, also once said that the Republica Party was the best party that money can buy.

Well, the Democratic Party has now joined the circus of raising a lot of money as well. We need reforms to change the process.

Fritz Holling, the recently deceased Senator from South Carolina once talked about how frustrated he was to leave Washington each Friday because he had to raise money for the next election. This is not the way to run a railroad or a country.

We would be better served if we had publicly funded federal campaigns that are shorter than they are now. We just might see real representative government again, if we take the huge amounts of money out of politics and give we the people a say. Our representatives should listen to us and not to corporations or just to the very wealthy. Our future as a Republic depends on whether or not we reform our electoral process.

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