I’m so proud that Patty Murray, House Democrat, and Maria Cantwell, Senate Democrat, are from Washington state. Both have made comments this week stating that we would be better off going over the “fiscal cliff.” This kind of thinking is what made this country great. We should never compromise with the “other” party. Instead of compromise we should self-inflict credit down-grades, and avoid balancing a budget until we get sufficient leverage over the other party. Why pay our bills anyway? We’re America. People will always buy our debt; where else are they going to go… Japan? Hell the people who vote our Congress, President, and Senate in will only suffer a little bit from their unwillingness to do the job. I mean, why solve such an important issue? They can always go on vacation and push it further out. It’s not as if, voters pay their salary. Oh wait. If you can sift through the massive amount of sarcasm, follow me.
Let me be clear, it is NOT the point of this piece of this article to put down Democrats. These two ladies have been the only law-makers that have made comments implying that it would be beneficial to jump off said cliff. We all know that both sides are equally stubborn. If you have ever had a question about where the House and Senate’s loyalties lie, this should make it VERY clear. Instead of tirelessly working on a Grand Bargain that can lead to avoiding this problem, they are holding strong to their donors’ wishes. This has nothing to do with voters. If it did, they would get this solved. Instead special interests, lobbyists, and large donors have their loyalties. No one is willing to bend for fear that they will not have the flood of donations after all is said and done. Bottom line, all they care about is being re-elected. This fact looms largest: 94% of the time the winner of an election is the candidate that raised the most campaign money. So in essence they know they will win yours/my vote if they spend enough money on the campaign. The only way to do so is to keep their campaign donors, lobbyists, and special interests happy.
As we close in on Memorial day, my mind drifts to images to two soldiers dug into a fox hole sharing a lucky strike. One has a bit of a Bronxified Italian accent, the other has a the diction of a news reporter. They talk about the girls from back home they want to take to a drive-in picture show. For the moment there doesn’t seem to be any immediate danger of a Nazi soldier sneaking up on them even though you can hear the shells landing in the not-too-far-off distance. Later the conversation drifts to the Yankees and Joe DiMaggio. Neither one of them are old enough to buy a beer, but both enjoy another cigarette.
Almost every ten years we go to war. Men and women die; we remain free. I don’t mean free as in, I’m not an in shackles free, but something much more than just that. I can wake up on Sunday and go to any kind of church I want. At the beginning of the work week, I can mop floors or study at the university of my choice. If I feel disenchanted with the government, I can voice my opinion at the top of my lungs, and go out to vote. I can blog about it, update my Facebook status, or shoot out a tweet. Bottom line, as long as I am not stepping on someone else’s rights, I can do just about any damn thing I like.
These freedoms have been paid for with blood, someones son, daughter, husband, wife, grandson, lover, etc. There are no words to explain the gratitude, just an understanding of what it has taken to get here. The problem is that we are not holding up our end of the bargain. Soldiers have died on our behalf to uphold our freedoms and we are allowing a failing government to ruin what our forefathers intended us. Our nation has become bought and sold. Our lawmakers campaign and fundraise the vast majority of their political lives. While in office they fight for the people who put them there, their campaign donors.
Our veterans and those that we have lost did not fight to protect the corporatocracy of USA, they are fighting for the U.S.A. and our democratic values we are slowly, but surely, losing. We owe it to them to research the people we vote for. A thirty-second commercial does nothing to tell you about a candidate. Look up their voting record. Write a letter to your local congressman or woman about the stupidity of campaign finance and existence of Super PACs. Do something to hold up our end of the deal we made with our sons, daughters, husbands, and mothers that fight for our rights!
I understand the concept of limited government, and in many cases agree. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Since, Citizens United (PAC) v. FEC in ’10 allowing Corp.’s the same rights as individuals in donating, election spending is up 460%. This was considered a “win” for freedom of Speech and limited government conservative republicans. Unfortunately, there are unintended consequences for this freedom. We can now voice our free speech by spending unlimited amounts of money on behalf of the government officials of our liking. Great thing huh? Constitutionalists feel that this is adhering closely to our forefathers intentions, but this is absolutely not the case.
Our forefathers saw this coming and tried to write into the constitution checks and balances to combat this. In early United States history they saw it could be a problem for foreign ambassadors accepting gifts from foreign countries: “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Bottom line, they were worried that these men would become corrupted. They couldn’t foresee the possibility of Super PAC’s being established, or that contributions from campaign donors would someday purchase legislation. I guarantee that they would never consider money as free speech.
8 of 10 congressman & senators have given earmarks directly to campaign donors. That’s just earmarks. Think of all the legislation that is put into law that is tailored specifically for a donor, or the tax loopholes that are insisted upon on behalf of a campaign donor. Lobbyists are not allowed to take congressmen to dinner, unless they bring donor checks and call it a campaign fundraising. Why would we make it law that they cannot take them out to dinner if we didn’t realize there is a corrupting influence there. Because money is involved, we allow them to get around the rule. Thinking rationally, it become obvious who makes the laws. It is almost as if they are stating, “you can’t take me to dinner… unless you bring me a whole bunch of money. Otherwise it would be unethical.”
Proposal to fix the before mentioned problems:
- Limit campaign contributions to $250 annually.
- Eliminate all middle man donations. (A lobbyist can’t show up w/ a stack of donor checks)
- Eliminate SuperPAC’s as they are already borderline illegal.
- Cap fundraising to 500k per election. (this can be tailored to the office)
- Government match all donations up to the previously mentioned cap.
These five things would eliminate Quid Pro Quo because no person in their right mind is going to write legislation for a $250 donation. It would cut down on the time lawmakers spend fundraising. Currently they spend 30-60% of their time just fundraising. The elimination of bundled donations would ensure that lobbyists don’t have undue leverage on their lawmaker. It would really limit them to educators on issues which is all they should be. There is a term that Buddy Roemer uses: Free to Lead. If no one entity had donated to a congressman/senator more than $250 they would be “Free” to govern with their voters in mind instead of the Corporation that put the most into their campaign.