Tuesday, October 19, 2010A good question from Digby. In light of the fountain of lies being spewed from TV sets all over the country, paid for by anonymous - and even foreign - corporate donors, and the abject failure of the press to notice that a lie is a lie, one has to wonder at the long-term health of the republic. If we live in a state whose elections are influenced (I'll take the optimistic case and just call it influence) by wealthy interests, some of them not even located in the United States, how are we ever going to fix the mess we're in? Money is not the be-all and end-all of politics - lots of candidates spend more money and still lose, but together with the other structural advantages enjoyed by Republicans, it has to make you wonder whether we are ever going to be able to end the remorseless concentration of wealth and power that is slowly turning this country into a banana republic. My only hope is that eventually there will be sufficient public disgust that we can turn the tide. Regrettably such social movements have always required leaders.
And it is here that we have a problem. It's not that there aren't policy levers we could use to mitigate the influence of corporate money in politics: we could require shareholders to vote on contributions, strengthen disclosure laws, even campaign for a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood (which might be easier to persuade people of than a direct campaign finance amendment, given the widespread if wrongheaded concerns about free speech). But who is going to champion such a movement? The Democratic Party is nearly as in thrall to well-heeled groups as the Republicans, a situation that will only grow worse as unions continue to decay and old-style new deal liberals are replaced by neoliberal ones. Money is even more important in primaries than in general elections, you see.
It's going to be long road. Those of us who recognize the danger need to start talking about, to lay out the argument in a clear way, and to follow up what we say with concrete political action. We have to make the funding of political campaigns - scratch that, the financing of american politics , into major political issue.