Anyone who thinks that the wealthy who are buying elections are doing it to help the country is in for a rude awakening.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission is a staggering blow to democracy. But it’s certainly not the only obstacle average Americans face in the fight to maintain a fair election process.
Because of the ruling, Americans may now donate as much money as they want to candidates, political action committees (PACs) and political parties in a campaign cycle, provided they spread the wealth. SCOTUS ruled in a 5-4 decision that it’s a free speech issue — like Citizens United.
Clearly, money talks.
The ruling gives the ultra-wealthy even more power to influence elections, while doing nothing for average Americans. Sure, we can all donate as much as we want — and we should give what we can — but most of us will never be able to donate as much as the Koch brothers, the DeVos family or Sheldon Adelson can. It’s estimated that a single person could donate more than $3 million per election cycle under the new ruling.
I know there are wealthy Democrats out there, but let’s face it: It’s wealthy Republicans who are holding the purse strings of puppets like Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and every Tea Party candidate elected to office, just to name a few.
The thing is, this certainly isn’t the first — or the last — example of the growing influence of money in politics, whether at the ballot box or in the legislature. Gov. Rick Snyder is well-funded by corporations who earned a $1.8 billion tax break for their patronage, while he cut more than $1 billion from Michigan education and senior citizens’ retirement earnings. Then there’s Gov. Snyder’s NERD Fund of secret donors, which looks very likely to have acted to help Snyder’s cousin to the tune of more than $1 million.
Republicans don’t want to raise the minimum wage, even though it’s impossible to make ends meet on a minimum-wage salary. Many endorse Paul Ryan’s FY2015 budget, which makes drastic cuts to nearly every social service while giving more tax breaks to big business.
But what baffles me the most is the middle-class Republicans who think voting for people like this is a good idea. They buy the party line and swallow it whole, without thinking about what’s in it for them or, to be more exact, what’s not in it for them.
Do working-class Americans really think the Koch Brothers, the DeVos family or their hand-picked candidates like Rick Snyder are going to do anything to help them? Do they really think that letting someone buy an election is a good idea? If the shoe were on the other foot, and Democrats were funding elections all over the country with unlimited spending power, you’d better believe Republicans would be screaming bloody murder about their freedom.
Middle-class Americans who vote for candidates funded by wealthy special interests will eventually find themselves with nothing, because corporatists aren’t in it to make the world a better place or even to help boost the American economy. They’re in it for a profit. They’re in it for themselves.
When President Obama spoke at the University of Michigan and mentioned Republicans who are opposed to raising the minimum wage, the audience booed. “Don’t boo,” the President said. “Organize.”
He’s right. I’m not the first to say it, but everyone who cares about a fair democracy has to get involved, however they can. Democrats still have a ground game the GOP can’t hope to beat, but we have to step it up.
In response to the SCOTUS ruling, here’s what I’m doing: I’ve signed up to volunteer for Michigan’s next governor, Mark Schauer. I’ll volunteer for as many campaigns as I have time for. I encourage you to volunteer for and donate to the candidates you believe in, too.
That’s how we make sure our voices are heard. That’s how Democrats win in 2014.
[Photo from a 2013 Represent.US / Restore Our American Democracy protest by Chris Savage | Eclectablog]