It’s Way Past Time to Get the Big Money Out of Politics

I have long advocated this sentiment, and I am encouraged to see the “#GetMoneyOut” movement started on twitter and with this online petition.

Of course, it’ll take a lot more that some tweets and an online petition to accomplish the goal, but it is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. With the Occupy Wall Street protests spreading all across the country, perhaps the time is ripe to force some real change, from the ground up, via real democratic pressure from the citizenry.

If so, this should be one of, if not the, main goal of this nascent movement. For without this simple fix, we’re in real danger of losing our republic to an unelected oligarchy, a rich man’s club full of greedy bastards who care for nothing more than their own bottom line.

The problem has been brewing for decades, as elections have become more and more influenced by big money. Especially since the advent of television, the art of “selling” us a president (and a congress) has become amazingly advanced.

Elections are now won with syrupy appeals to our emotions, using ads with pastoral scenes and bright sunny visions of a “return” to some fabled past that never was — paired with ads that demonize the opponent, using fact-free innuendo, primal fear, and all manner of slimy, yet state-of-the-art techniques to frighten voters into voting their way.

And now, with the Orwellingly-named Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court in early 2010, unlimited campaign cash can now legally flow from the richest corporations (domestic and foreign) into the campaign coffers of suspect candidates who will dutifully fulfill all their corporate masters’ wishes once in office (or risk losing their support).

The law now says that PACs (Political Action Committees) can inject unlimited amounts of money into advertising for an issue or candidate, although not directly into the candidates’ campaign fund. While the PACs must disclose their contributors, a loophole the size of Texas says donors to these PACs may include non-profit organizations that have secret donors.

In other words, the richest among us may donate secretly to these non-profits, who then in turn donate to the PACs, and all the PACs have to reveal is the name of the non-profit. Pretty slick, eh?

And they call it democracy.

Stephen Colbert, of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report has done a masterful job of showing how this works, all the while lampooning the process. He has formed his own Colbert Super PAC, and then formed a non-profit to garner “secret” donations to donate to it.

In Colbert’s case — but not in real life — he has made the entire process transparent, showing his viewers exactly how it works, and thus exposing the undemocratic process — in a very funny way — and educating an otherwise woefully under-informed public.

After all, the corporate-owned media has done a terrible job of educating the public about this sham that may single-handidly destroy any vestige of democracy left in the US of A. It says a lot about our media that it takes a political satire comedy show to make us aware of this threat.

Yes, a movement to get the big money out of politics is long overdue. In fact, being all too-comfortable economically (until recently) as a population, we may have waited too long.

But we can’t sit around and do nothing. The Occupy Wall Street movement may seem ragged and undisciplined to some, but unlike the “tea party” movement (funded from the start by the likes of the notoriously anti-democratic Koch brothers), at least it’s not corporate-sponsored. And neither is the Get Money Out effort.

May the two merge into something truly inspiring: the rescuing of our democratic republic.

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