By Livia Carroll
John Jay, one of America’s Founding Fathers, once said “those who own it should govern it.” This was true in the 18th century, and it is apparently true today. As long as money rules, it does not really matter who gets elected.
Unless we eliminate all but publicly-funded election campaigns, elected officials have no choice but to serve special interests. Politicians have more than 30,000 lobbyists nudging them along in Washington. I love that we’re capitalists, but isn’t a democracy supposed to be a representative government? That seems to be long gone.
Shouldn’t there be some equalizing mechanism in government? We assume that is what our elected officials are doing, but in truth, that is not possible—not if they want to get re-elected. Maybe that explains why Washington is so broken. Our government has turned into a legalized Mafia.
Few get involved without corporate approval and no serious legislation gets ratified without that same corporate approval. For instance, we have laws that require all of us to wear seat belts. No disapproval for this one. It hurts no one, saves lives and corporate America profits from it. But, a publicly funded health care option that we would pay for—just like we’d pay for any other health insurance policy—no way. Insurance company lobbyists went to work on this one until it disappeared.
For a politician to have any chance of winning he/she must get the endorsement of either the Democrat or Republican Party who will, in turn, help finance the campaign. Candidates cannot afford to finance their own campaigns, so they start “dialing for dollars.” But elections cannot be won with just my few pennies, especially when you consider that the Koch Corporate Family alone contributes in excess of 400 million dollars.
Fundraising becomes a never-ending process. A candidate cannot win without keeping a hand firmly in the pocket of corporate America. It’s extortion on a grand scale. The only difference between organized government and organized crime is that one is legal and the other is not.
To be re-elected legislators must stick with their party, whose platform must be accepted by the corporate backers. The process is no longer democratic. Citizens get to vote, but participation ends there.
The system has been totally corrupted, and publicly funded campaign financing is the only solution. It’s a simple solution that real citizens should demand of government.
No one should own the American government.