The words so eloquently spoken so many years ago, from the Declaration of Independence still ring true. Thomas Jefferson said,” We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—–That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”
We have seen over the course of our history our rights expanded to include, women, and every citizen of this country, irrespective of race, color or creed. In order to continue to drink from the cup of liberty, our rights are continually challenged. Our rights are being threatened today and the very soul of our democracy is at stake.
There is a North wind blowing over our nation as those who profess to preserve liberty are in reality seeking to gather more power and wealth for the oligarchs and the most wealthy.
Democracy is dying! Citizens United and the gross amount of money being spent on campaigns is robbing, we the people, of our representation in government. Fewer and fewer people vote. Apathy and disenchantment with our government grows. Our representatives have been in general bought and paid for. Where is the intregity in the political process? For the most part gone are the days when, as Franklin Roosevelt, once said, ” inside the voting booth every American man and women stands as the equal of every other American man and women.’
Barry Goldwater expounded on the need for less corruption by saying,” The fact that liberty depended on honest elections was of the utmost importance to the patriots who founded our nation and wrote the Constitution. They knew that corruption destroyed the prime requisite of constitutional liberty, an independent legislature free from any influence other than that of the people. Applying these principles to modern times, we can make the following conclusions. To be successful, representatives government assumes that elections will be controlled by the citizenry at large, not by those who give the most money. Elected officials must owe their allegiance to the people, not to their own wealth or to the wealth of interest groups who speak only for the selfish fringes of the whole community.” This he stated in 1987. Truer words have never been spoken. His words should warn us of the dangers of putting too much power into the hands of a few.
Placing power into the hands of a few by allowing unlimited campaign expenditures by wealthy citizens, and political committees for individual candidates turns democracy on its head and gives an inordinate amount of power to the wealthy whose interests lie in protecting their power and influence. It corrupts the system.
Some citizens have latched onto the hope that having term limits as a reform measure, have failed to realize that it is money and the corrupting influence of money that is the root of our problem. Term limits will not lessen the power and corrupting influence of money at all. Elected officials would still be spending part of their week raising money. The Koch brothers and other heavy contributors would still be spending huge amounts of money to have their candidates elected through PACS and SUPER PACS. It would not make our elected representatives any more honest or answerable to we the people. We already have the greatest term limit the people can have and that is that we have the power to vote members of Congress out every two years. We need to use that power. We need to solve the money problem. President Theodore Roosevelt recognized the fact that corporations should never be allowed to contribute a single dime to any political candidate or political committee.
The U.S.Supreme Court is doing all it can to increase the power of the wealthy by giving corporations the same rights as we citizens, as we the people, and by giving the power to the few we will soon unleash the floodgates by allowing unlimited campaign donations to individual candidates.
Lord Acton wisely spoke about how power corrupts and how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Well, money corrupts and a lot of money corrupts absolutely.
Plutarch, the Roman historian, spoke of how money led to the fall of the Roman Republic. “The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, however, this process of corruption spread to the law courts and to the army, and finally, even when the sword became enslaved by the power of gold, the republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.”
There are at least 3 major impacts from the corrupting influences of money: Societal needs go unsolved and unanswered, the voter becomes disengaged, and apathetic. Why vote if nothing changes is the refrain we hear. In the 19th Century our voter turnout was closer to 80%, now we are lucky to get a 50% turnout for a Presidential election. Our voter turnout is pathetically low in other elections. Third, the quality of the candidates has suffered. It is hard for an honest man or woman to be a candidate without sacrificing ones soul on the alter of money.
We can see now that the elites, the privileged class, is quite reluctant to lessen their power. They want to continue to grab more power and write the rules of the game. Even our Supreme Court has become much more of a political court, protecting the elites against the rights of we the people.
The answer is to throw away our apathy and discouragement and become involved. Whether it is in local politics or by just voting, we will lose the rights that we have and our Republic and our democracy if we do not fight to keep it. It is a fight we can win. We have experienced these type of cycles of history before. What we need to be is eternally vigilant. Become involved for our children and grandchildren’s sake. If you are young become involved to protect your future. Like Progressive eras that have come before, the public has changed things by becoming involved and aroused. Many things we take for granted today. It has taken an aroused nation to bring about change, whether it was the minimum wage, the 40 hour work week, work place safety, a woman’s right to vote, protection for our water and food or civil rights for all, it has taken a village to bring about well needed change. We have arrived at another critical juncture in the life of our nation when it will take we the people to preserve our union. It is within our power to take control of our own destiny. The first step that needs to happen is for all of us to vote. Vote wisely!