Last Sunday’s New York Times analysis of Federal Election Commission reports and Internal Revenue Service records shows that the fund-raising arms race has made most of the presidential hopefuls deeply dependent on a small pool of the richest Americans. In brief, fewer than four hundred families are responsible for almost half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Major hat-tip to Slogger Kevin F for compiling this list of Congressional quotes on the topic of monied political lobbying in the US:
• “You have to go where the money is. Now where the money is, there’s almost always implicitly some string attached. … It’s awful hard to take a whole lot of money from a group you know has a particular position then you conclude they’re wrong [and] vote no.” — Vice President Joe Biden in 2015.
• “Lobbyists and career politicians today make up what I call the Washington Cartel. … [They] on a daily basis are conspiring against the American people. … [C]areer politicians’ ears and wallets are open to the highest bidder.” — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in 2015.
• “When you start to connect the actual access to money, and the access involves law enforcement officials, you have clearly crossed a line. What is going on is shocking, terrible.” – James E. Tierney, former attorney general of Maine, in 2014.
• “Allowing people and corporate interest groups and others to spend an unlimited amount of unidentified money has enabled certain individuals to swing any and all elections, whether they are congressional, federal, local, state … Unfortunately and rarely are these people having goals which are in line with those of the general public. History well shows that there is a very selfish game that’s going on and that our government has largely been put up for sale.” – John Dingell, 29-term Democratic congressman from Michigan, in 2014 just before he retired.
• “When some think tank comes up with the legislation and tells you not to fool with it, why are you even a legislator anymore? You just sit there and take votes and you’re kind of a feudal serf for folks with a lot of money.” — Dale Schultz, 32-year Republican state legislator in Wisconsin and former state Senate Majority Leader, in 2013 before retiring rather than face a primary challenger backed by Americans for Prosperity.
• “The alliance of money and the interests that it represents, the access that it affords to those who have it at the expense of those who don’t, the agenda that it changes or sets by virtue of its power is steadily silencing the voice of the vast majority of Americans … The truth requires that we call the corrosion of money in politics what it is – it is a form of corruption and it muzzles more Americans than it empowers, and it is an imbalance that the world has taught us can only sow the seeds of unrest.” – Secretary of State John Kerry, in 2013 farewell speech to the Senate.
• “I think it is because of the corrupt paradigm that has become Washington, D.C., whereby votes continually are bought rather than representatives voting the will of their constituents. … That’s the voice that’s been missing at the table in Washington, D.C. — the people’s voice has been missing.” — Michele Bachmann, four-term Republican congresswoman from Minnesota and founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, in 2011.
• “The banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.” – Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., in 2009.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have posted here to say that privately donated political monies are the root of most evil in democratic politics across the world. In Italy, it gave them Berlusconi. In Britain, the Tubby Torygraph Twins are backing Boris Johnson. Here and in the US it has given us unmanageable national debt, bodybags, and the hastened recruitment of Muslims by Jihadists. In Australia, it’s given them Tony Abbott – the man with Nothing to Hide, especially between his ears. And most importantly, it saddled us with Thatcher, Blair, Cameron and Osborne.
Observe: prior to 2010, George Osborne lambasted Beijing for its “despicable” record on human rights. Today, he waves his bum at their members 24/7.
But still, some Sloggers write on the threads here, “I’m not giving my taxes to these buggers, they get enough already”. I do not and never will understand the mentality behind that: it strikes me as a mulish disregard for the blindingly obvious facts. Ban all cash donations and monetised lobbying, and you end the power of private, unelected money over politics for good. Let it carry on, and the end of the World beckons.
You think this alarmist? A few points will suffice:
* Does anyone seriously think we would be persevering with derivative-diluted globalised banking and neoliberal economics, if the politicians we “elect” weren’t controlled by such interests almost completely?
* Is there a single citizen left anywhere in the West who really believes that we would have blown $25 trillion on global bank bailouts if Congressmen and MPs weren’t owned by Wall Street and the City…and every institution in the US and Europe were not run by Goldman Sachs alumni?
* Hands up all those who think that, had we invested in research to enable progression beyond oil as an energy form years ago, we would give a monkey’s chuff about the Middle East, Islamism and Ukraine? Texan oil has lobbied against all alternatives to oil, and provided 50% of recent Presidents.
* The application of QE in the US, UK, China and Japan has not worked and continues not to. Yet endless bouts have been applied at higher and higher levels. This has been a primary reason for dangerously nuclear Sino-Japanese friction of late. Mercantile globalism is an idea almost devoid of either logic or track-record, but it continues to be seen as the way forward….and multinational companies continue to use this idiotic model to move money around to evade tax. Anyone spot the connection between this pattern, and the overwhelming hold Big Business has on Western legislatures?
The entrance of Big Money support into democratic politics has and will reduce the greatest contentment of the greatest number, constrain citizen liberty, increase wealth disparity, espouse policies antithetical to private individuals, discourage risk-taking creativity, and ultimately lead to war. There isn’t a rice paper of difference between this unhealthy relationship, and that between Islam and the States it controls.
Which bit of this do the money-donation system supporters not get, please?
The best thing we ever did in the West was to secularise the State. The worst thing we ever did was to let Mammon take over the pernicious religious role.
The ONLY way to restore the balance is to penalise corporate donors until their donations can be banned by Law.
Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. The first step on this road is down to US.