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.
“A fund-raising consultant advised that if I didn’t raise at least $10,000 a week (in pre-Citizens United dollars), I wouldn’t be back.”
There it is: the most important task for members of the house of representatives, according to this NYT article by Steve Israel. It gets even worse:
There were hours of “call time” — huddled in a cubicle, dialing donors. Sometimes double dialing and triple dialing. Whispering sweet nothings and other small talk into the phone in hopes of receiving large somethings. I’d sit next to an assistant who collated “call sheets” with donor’s names, contribution histories and other useful information. (“How’s Sheila? Your wife. Oh, Shelly? Sorry.”) . . . I’ve spent roughly 4,200 hours in call time, attended more than 1,600 fund-raisers just for my own campaign and raised nearly $20 million in increments of $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000 per election cycle. And things have only become worse in the five years since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which ignited an explosion of money in politics by ruling that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in elections.
Title of the article: “Confessions of a Congressman.”
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.
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.