It is clear that the so called “business and financial elites” have a stranglehold on our economy, government and political system, if not our minds. The current shutdown of the government can be traced back to lobbying groups such as the US Chamber of Commerce and the billionaires who fund the Tea Party through faux-groups such as Freedom Works, Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity and the list goes nauseatingly on.
To give just one example, the NY Times reported on Sept 18, 2013 how money from wealthy donors is being channeled to the Club for Growth to fund the Tea Party, intimidate politicians and obstruct the government (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/opinion/the-money-behind-the-shutdown-crisis.html?_r=0).
Internationally, plutocratic billionaires are also holding other nations and their populations hostage, such as Greece & Argentina. One way they do this is by buying their debt for pennies on the dollar and then demanding payment in full (http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19213-the-golden-dawn-murder-case-larry-summers-and-the-new-fascism). No payment: then asset stripping occurs.
Much of the corrupting influence of the 1% on our government and political system can be traced back to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling. This was the ruling that equated money with speech and did away with campaign finance spending limits. But it was historically manufactured and it really would have been ironic if years of unleashing capitalism did not lead to such a ruling. We should not be surprised.
And soon the Supreme Court will be hearing the McCutcheon vs. Federal Electoral Commission case (most Americans have not even heard of it for it does not feature the Kardashians) which could further erode limits on campaign financing. This case has been described as Ciitizens United on steroids (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/08/supreme-court-challenge-campaign-finance-limits). And it is, for it further denudes public interests and sends the whole rotten mess called American democracy right into the watch pocket of the plutocrats.
To see how the political structure of America has been altered in favor of the rich, the total spent by presidential candidates went from $192 million in 1992 to $1.3 billion in 2008( http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/totals.php. And it has been estimated that the 2012 presidential election cost in excess of $2 billion. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/06/2012-presidential-election-cost_n_2254138.html).
Big money and crass commercialism has corrupted almost all aspects of civic life including federal elections, state legislatures (ALEC), judicial elections and Congressional redistricting, not to mention the culture of America – the way people think or better said, the way they refuse to think critically. Commercial culture warps the human mind and deceives human emotions. Objectifying everything, turning the social landscape into an un-free and unequal society has strangled the lifeblood of the thought process and culture of American.
On Oct 10, 2013 the NY Times reported:
“To some extent, the Chamber itself, along with other lobbying groups, helped create the conditions for Washington’s impasse. After the 2010 elections, the Chamber and other business interests funneled millions of dollars into Republican redistricting efforts around the country, helping draw overwhelmingly safe Republican districts whose occupants — many among the most conservative House members — are now far less vulnerable to challenges from more moderate Republicans” (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/10/us/business-groups-see-loss-of-sway-over-house-gop.html?hp&_r=0).
The problem is that overturning Citizens United is a remedy which is time consuming and unlikely to succeed. There are many reasons for this, the major one being the lack of critical thinking and political literacy among Americans.
It has been suggested that a simple and quick way to remedy the Citizens United ruling and the corrupting influence of big money on politics and government would be to enact a tax on large political and dark money contributions. For example, a 25% tax could be placed on political-dark money contributions made by any individual, group or corporation over $2,000. Since corporations and the 1% have a pathological aversion to taxes, such a plan would likely reduce their enthusiasm to make contributions and limit their influence on the political process.
But then, how would we find the ‘dark money’? The system is so corrupt that perhaps, save an internal implosion, little will likely succeed to formulate remedies.
The hijacking of American politics really is no hijacking at all. American politics has always been corrupt. The level of corruption has certainly increased but this is owed to an economic system that is failing and allowing the hyperbolic vermin to emerge.
Let’s put the blame where it is deserved: on an economic system called capitalism that puts profits before people under the argument that what is good for a few is good for the many. Let’s make a commitment to assure that all social, economic and political policy decisions put people before profit. Until then, Kabuki theatre will predominate and the lives of millions will lie in tatters.