THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY’S 2012 platform pledged to “curb the influence of lobbyists and special interests.” But the 2016 convention in Philadelphia will be officially hosted by lobbyists and corporate executives, a number of whom are actively working to undermine progressive policies achieved by President Barack Obama, including health care reform and net neutrality.
Some of the members of the 2016 Democratic National Convention Host Committee, whose job is to organize the logistics and events for the convention, are hardly even Democratic Party stalwarts, given that many have donated and raised thousands of dollars for Republican presidential and congressional candidates this cycle.
The composition of the 15-member Host Committee may appear out of sync with the rhetoric of Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but the reality is that the party, in the form of the Democratic National Committee, has moved decisively to embrace the lobbying industry.
It’s extraordinary the extent to which “news” personalities are trying to bait Bernie Sanders to abandon the issues and engage in personal attacks or horse-race politics. This recent interview with Andrea Mitchell is a good example of this approach by a interviewer and Bernie Sanders’ approach to bringing the discussion back to concrete issues.
Here’s the bottom line of a Princeton study, “Does the Government Represent the People?”:
Gilens & Page found that the number of Americans for or against any idea has no impact on the likelihood that Congress will make it law.
“The preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
One thing that does have an influence? Money. While the opinions of the bottom 90% of income earners in America have a “statistically non-significant impact,” Economic elites, business interests, and people who can afford lobbyists still carry major influence.
The study found that nearly every issue we face as a nation is caught in the grip of corruption. Industries given special attention are those who provide the most funding to politicians: Energy, Telecommunications, Pharmaceuticals, Defense, Agribusiness and Finance.
Even though this conversation was the result of a prank, it substantiates what many of us imagine when we think of politicians talking with their rich owners, otherwise known as contributors. Here’s how Scott Walker talks when he allegedly has no time to talk to anyone else, and when the caller is purportedly David Koch. I think of this kind of thing as pillow talk between a prostitute and his customer.
I received this new Declaration of Independence in a mass emailing from Alan Grayson:
We need a new declaration of independence. FDR took a stab at this, with his “Four Freedoms.” Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom from want. Freedom from fear. That’s a good start.
But now, eight decades later, we need to declare our independence from other forms of oppression.
We hereby declare our independence from bigotry, in all its evil forms. We declare our independence from racism, sexism, homophobia, language discrimination and chauvinism. Everyone has equal rights, no matter where you’re from, what you look like, what language you speak, and whom you love. Everyone deserves respect.
We hereby declare our independence from narrow-minded, extremist or violent religious fundamentalism. We live in a land where church and state are separate. Religious belief, no matter how sincere, is no license to dictate to others whether to terminate a pregnancy, whether to use contraception, or whom to marry. Earlier this year, I placed my hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution; I didn’t place my hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.
We hereby declare our independence from the greedy. Malefactors of great wealth have no right to buy and sell elected officials thorough the legalized bribery of “independent expenditures.” They have no right to despoil our land and our water, the air we breathe and the food we eat. They have no right to manipulate or gut our laws in order to increase their lucre. They have no right to jack up the price of what we buy, or determine what we see on TV or on our computer screens.
We hereby declare our independence from “1984”-style surveillance. Neither the Government nor a private company has any reason to monitor the activities of innocent people, without their express, informed and freely given consent. Who I’m with, what I say, what I buy, what I read; that’s none of anyone else’s business. Privacy – the fundamental right to be left alone – is an essential part of what it means to be a human being.
We hereby declare our independence from exploitation. Bad bosses are today’s King George. They want to work employees as hard as they can, and pay them as little as possible in return. They call the difference profit. If workers are organized, they can fight back. But if not, then they need legal protection from exploitation. If you have a job, you should have a living wage, and time-and-a-half for overtime. If you have a job, you should have health coverage. If you have a job, you should have paid sick leave. If you have a job, you should have a pension. As John Mellencamp would say, “Ain’t that America?”
We hereby declare our independence from misinformation. Fox News is a lie factory. Special interests used to lie to us about the dangers of smoking; now they lie to us about the dangers of pollution and climate disruption. They claim a right to “free speech,” but we have a right to honest speech. We have to be part of what a Reagan aide once dismissed as the “reality-based community.”
We hereby declare our independence from hubris. No, we can’t bring peace through war. No, we can’t force our way of life or our way of thinking on seven billion other people. No, we aren’t going to end the 1200-year-old civil war between the Sunnis and the Shia. No, we aren’t going to go and kill everyone everywhere in the world who harbors some harsh views of us. And no, they won’t greet our soldiers with flowers, bake apple pies for them, and salute the American flag with a hand on their hearts. They want to be them, not us. We can care for victims, protect ourselves and help our friends without sticking our nose into every else’s business.
We hereby declare our independence from a rigged system of fake trade. We buy their stuff, creating tens of millions of jobs in other countries. But they don’t buy an equal amount of our stuff. Instead, they buy our assets — $11,000,000,000,000.00 of our assets. They not only rob us of our jobs, but they drive us deeper and deeper into debt. When did Uncle Sam become Uncle Sap? If we don’t declare independence, the endgame is national bankruptcy.
And me? I hereby declare my independence from the corrupt system of campaign finance. I will not carve up the law into little pieces, and sell it to the highest bidder. I will not make “friends” with lobbyists and special interests and the minions of multinational corporations, and then “help” those “friends.” I will not forsake my real job – doing something good for the 700,000 people who chose me to be their Congressman – in favor of begging millionaires and billionaires for a few crumbs from their tables.
It’s Fourth of July and our democracy on life support. Regardless of your political leanings, this would be a great day for everyone to declare that it is not acceptable that big money is buying elections and dictating the way of discussing and deciding important issues across this nation. Instead of celebrating the distant past with each other today, let’s take a long painful look at the ubiquitous corruption of our government and declare that this is the perfect year that we will bring back the kind of country that the Founders would appreciate. If you truly believe in family values, do it for the nation’s children. Let’s start with a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizen’s United so that we are better able to have meaningful conversations and candidates. Here’s one place to begin today’s journey.
Alternatively, this is a good day to celebrate the Anti-Fourth-of-July.
We should be electing leaders. Hillary is not a leader, as illustrated by Daily Kos:
Bernie was skeptical of a centrist Bill Clinton running for president in 1992, and immediately after Clinton won the election and appointed Hillary to lead health care reform, Bernie set to work attempting to convince her of the virtue of a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system. As you can probably also imagine, he wasn’t successful. Still, please do read what follows. The dialogue between Hillary and a Harvard Medical School physician supporting single-payer — accompanying Bernie to his meeting at the White House — is important for the record.
They got their meeting at the White House that month, and the two doctors laid out the case for single-payer to the first lady. “She said, ‘You make a convincing case, but is there any force on the face of the earth that could counter the hundreds of millions of the dollars the insurance industry would spend fighting that?’” recalled Himmelstein. “And I said, “How about the president of the United States actually leading the American people?’ and she said, ‘Tell me something real.’ ”