For the past few years, I've been bothered by the strong influence that corporations and their lobbyists have had in our political system. It seems that these corporations are able to spend large amounts of money to insure that only their voices are heard in the halls of government. While many Tea Party members are worried about an encroaching big government, I share with many progressives a different worry about the growing power of corporations over our politics and personal choices. So last Summer I decided to attend a rally to limit corporate lobbying and sponsorship of politicians in Washington D.C. and to advocate the public financing of elections in front of San Jose's City Hall. Along with this blog are photos I took of the event.
The Supreme Court's recent decision--the January 21 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to allow corporate "persons" to spend as much as they want in the name of free speech--has the potential to undermine democracy. After all, democracy truly works only when people examine the relevant information and make rational decisions based on that information. Advertising, twisting the news, and creating certain appearances can distort the information and short-circuit our ability to make rational decisions. These take money--lots of it--so the corporation that can promise lots of money to a candidate can really influence any election.
The decision may undermine democracy, but it doesn't have to. We ought to start working right now along a couple of different paths.
As we are waiting for the final bloody battle of health care reform, the final stage of compromising between the “House” and senate bills, I wish you (if you hadn’t read it yet) to read Professor Dreier’s blog Waffling Democrats’ Health Care Hypocrisy. Dr. Dreier educates us on how “Bribed” Senators Joe Lieberman, Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and Kent Conrad discriminate the US public against military service men and veterans. These senators supported to provide “Public Plan” to military service men and veterans in the name of Veterans Administration (VA), but fight hard against providing the same “Public Plan” to us “the Public”? Why, on earth, do they have this right of discriminating the US population based on whether they are in military uniform or not?
We've worked so hard to help students have equal access to voting its rewarding to have it reintroduced into a legislature that will see it as a priority. As we speak in Washington there is a press conference announcing its importance and emphasizing the difficulties that young people face simply in casting a ballot each election.
According to a release from the Student Association for Voter Empowerment...
My Grandfather used to say with some frequency towards the end of his long 82 years that “it’s a modern world.” Boy, was he ever right—there are black bears in northwest Missouri, just a county away from my own; deer, those terribly dangerous creatures, have invaded the Kansas City metro, with a Kansas legislator proposing an open bow season within a densely populated park within Shawnee Mission; and a new hunting season is open on unitemized internet campaign contributions over the amount of $5,000.00, though a similar requirement wouldn’t exist if it were raised through a small, local fundraiser where the aggregate of unitemized contributions received were over $5,000.00.
"No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President..."
Many of us are still reeling in disgust over the Supreme Court's inappropriate interference in the Presidential election in 2000. Most of us continue to believe that the judiciary branch had no business crowning King George W. Bush as our president. We've suffered (barely survived) through the eight years hence.
What now? Supreme Court Justice (and right wing zealot) Clarence Thomas just can't keep his hands off of our elections. This from Afro-American:
In a highly unusual move, U.S. Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has asked his colleagues on the court to consider the request of an East Brunswick, N.J. attorney who has filed a lawsuit challenging President-elect Barack Obama’s status as a United States citizen.
Whoever wins this election next Tuesday, there is one thing that is almost certain to dominate the discussion about electoral politics on a national level: unprecedented massive amounts of money!
However, while recent national politics has had a focus on money and campaign reform, the emphasis has been on the influence of corporate money in elections. Almost all of us have bemoaned the fact that 'big money interests' have shut out the average American citizen's concern - to the point where, it had come to be believed that there is no way possible that citizens can have any credible influence because no 'ordinary Joe' (no I'm not going to say it!), can make that type of contribution.
You may remember last spring that John McCain first found himself in hot water over his handling of campaign finances. McCain had barreled past campaign spending limits mandated by his original acceptance of public campaign funding. Also, though he made many speeches about his sincerest desire to withdraw from public campaign financing, he couldn't because McCain had used the promise of public funding to secure his campaign loans. See, McCain struck a deal with his bank - he promised to only commit to using the public funding system if he lost the primary. In that event, the $5.8 million would still be waiting for him. On the other hand, if he won the primary, as he hoped to do, he would opt out of the public finance program altogether (he thought). At that point, though he would have been clearly deceptive to his bank (and all of us), he figured that all would be well because he'd be even more ready to pay the bank back with the private donation funds that would pour in.
Some readers may admire that as a shrewd strategy. Sounds kind of smart, right? Still, when most Americans take the time to understand what he was doing, it's likely they'll see McCain's canniness for what it was - trickery. Whether it was silly, desperate or unethical is debatable. There's one point we will all have to agree on - McCain attempted to game the system.
This week, brand new allegations continue to surface accusing McCain of cheating campaign finance laws...
The Catholic bishops in Dallas and Fort Worth co-wrote a letter read from church pulpits this month. The letter said: "To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or "abortion rights" when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil - and, therefore, morally impermissible." Some local Catholics took that as a de facto endorsement of John McCain, given the positions that he and Barack Obama take on abortion.
Here's the question: Were the bishops offering appropriate moral guidance based on Catholic dogma? Or did they cross a line either from a theological or constitutional perspective? Should clergy offer such specific guidance on issues of political importance that clearly benefit a particular candidate or political party? (Texas Faith: Politics and Abortion)
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