Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No Receipt Required

Those of you who are my friends on Facebook saw this one-liner from Jay Leno that I posted yesterday:

"Congress voted for tougher laws on corporations. So now when a corporation buys a senator, they need a receipt."

Well, that's not actually true. You don't need a receipt any more, according to the entire Republican bloc in Congress. You can read the full story here, but the Readers' Digest version is this:

1. The Supreme Court, in its bizarre decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (docket # 08-205, dated 1/21/10, downloadable as a .pdf here), ruled that corporations are considered individuals with unlimited rights of free speech as far as contributing money to election campaigns.

2. Democrats introduced legislation which would require require organizations paying for political advertising to disclose the names of their top donors in the ads. This would have been similar to what now is required of candidates for federal office. They maintained that their proposed legislation would bring greater transparency to campaign contributions from corporations, labor unions, and other special interests, which were able to increase their political spending in the wake of the Citizens United ruling.

3. Senate Republicans, without a single dissent, blocked the proposed legislation, complaining that it would curb freedom of speech and tilt campaign spending in favor of the Democrats.

Now, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I'm having a problem with this political logic.

Once upon a time, it was important to stand up and be counted. We wanted everyone to know where we stood on important issues, because we wanted to convince them that we were right. But that's not the Republican view. In this utterly incomprehensible view, letting everyone know that a special interest group (a union, the NRA, or any other organization with deep pockets) has bought an election violates that group's freedom of speech. How is that, exactly? And how does it tilt campaign spending in favor of the Democrats? Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, as the saying goes, and if every special interest group can hide its purchase of an election, it seems to me that groups bankrolling Democrats can hide their venality just like those that bankroll Republicans.

The word stupid comes to mind.

I wish I could have Platinum-Plus level voting rights like Big Organizations, but I can't afford them. I make a good salary, but I still live pretty much paycheck-to-paycheck, and I don't have a few extra (and probably tax exempt) millions to use to buy myself a Congressman.

Maybe the answer is for Real People to get organized, too. If Mike, Kathy, John, Fiona, Andrea, Bandit, and I could pool our resources, we probably couldn't afford to buy a Congressman, but we might be able to rent one for a while so that we could - for one brief, exciting moment - think that our voices were actually being heard over the thundering roar of the special interests.

As fantasies go, it's as good as any. And it probably won't get my face slapped, except by some Tea Party wingnut.

If this example of political cowardice and lack of moral courage doesn't outrage you, something's wrong. Coming on top of a Republican strategy that advocates simply attacking Democratic positions instead of putting out its own agenda for consideration, it just proves that all the GOP rhetoric is nothing more than empty wind.

You should still write your Congressman and make your voice heard, but with the understanding that your voice doesn't count for much any more. After all, you can spend 44 cents to mail one letter ... the special interests can spend millions to mail lots of letters and buy lots of face time.

The best government money can buy. And you don't even need a receipt.

Demand openness and transparency in campaign funding. Because you need to know who really owns the people you think you're electing.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Bandit said...

Good thoughts. Let's pool our money and elect Mike. His slogan can be...."a crayfish in every pot!!"

Mike said...

My campaign slogan will be, "I'm not going to do anything! I promise."

Otherwise I've got 5 bucks to throw into the pot, for a loottery ticket, that MIGHT win enough money to buy a congressman.

I typoed loottery but it actually makes more sense like I typoed it.

John said...

Investing in a Congressman? Sound riskier than the stock market or junk bonds. I'm with Mike on the loottery!

KathyA said...

1. Thanks for the shout out.
2. I'm opening a joint account for all of us tomorrow. Wish they still gave Green Stamps or at least a toaster.
3. We've got to take this really seriously and divide potential candidates between us to shop and make sure we get the biggest bang (probably not the best use of words) for our bucks.