This article was updated on 5/29/2015. A video link was added.
Is it just me because I don’t really understand the fine points of this campaign-finance stuff or is this jumping-off point referenced by Chief Justice John Roberts to begin to address campaign-finance reform the equivalent of a mirage? The thing that you desire appears to be there but no matter how far you travel in its direction you never reach it. And when you become so disoriented that you think that you have reached it (e.g. if the perceived thing is an oasis with water), you end up drinking sand.
The U.S. Supreme court opened the floodgates when it passed Citizens United. Now, in its effort to repair the damage that this law is doing and perhaps ultimately get things completely under control, the jumping-off point that Chief Justice Roberts alluded to is what they come up with? It seems to me that this is like opening the floodgates at Hoover Dam and then trying to stem the flow of water with a few sandbags. It is impossible to accomplish anything at all.
Big business, the big money people and Congress will certainly know how to get around this if Congress decides to even make an effort do anything about it. Perhaps I am being overly critical but I am frustrated with not having my voice heard and I am confident that there are many others who feel the same way that I do.
Big business and other big money elements have long had their hands in the cookie jar when it comes to our elected officials and the Citizens United ruling gave them even greater leverage over politicians than they already had. They have paid lobbyist at the local, state and federal levels who persistently demand and receive an audience with these politicians and they use those opportunities to draw attention to issues that big business and big money people support.
Although it is a completely different subject it is a salient issue that also involves everyday Americans so it is appropriate to interject it into this article: the TPP. According to Senator Elizabeth Warren, about 85% of those who helped to craft the TPP are a part of the big business/big money crowd. Further, the agreement is clouded by secrecy.
What I find most disconcerting is that almost every Republican – including Senator Mitch McConnell and the extreme rightwing crowd, that has showered him with vitriol from the time that he was first elected are now onboard with him and praising him. This love fest likely makes a lot of others, both everyday Americans and politicians, a bit uneasy even if they support the President.
That is why senators like Senator Warren, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders apposed President Obama and were responsible for handing him a defeat on this issue. They are not trying to destroy him or his legacy; they are working to stand up for middleclass Americans. I believe that the President understands why witnessing these Republicans suddenly fall in love with him in conjunction with those who crafted the agreement and the secrecy that surrounds it, that many of us are suspicious of it and have much ambivalence about supporting it. He asked us to trust him on this. We trust him but under the circumstances perhaps along with his request that we trust him, no matter how painful the task is for him and no matter how senseless he may feel that it is, he (or his team) should try to explain the situation to these dissenting everyday Americans and politicians to help alleviate their fears and gain their support.
Everyday Americans do not have the financial resources available to them that these billionaires and millionaires have so we do not have paid lobbyist. As a result, our voices either pale in the ears of politicians or go completely unheard because they are drowned out by the loud promises of financial support from the big money elements of our society. Click the ‘financial resources’ link above then click ‘Can One Billionaire Change 2016 Politics?’ to view an interesting video on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show, ‘The Last Word’, to understand the impact that a single billionaire can have on an election.
Whether it is real or just perceived, this kind of favored treatment generates fear, anger and distrust among those who are not among the chosen ones. It likely translates into what we are seeing now with the TPP and is the catalyst of the problems that President Obama is experiencing in getting the TPP passed.
I have struggled ever since the Supreme Court made its Citizens United ruling to find anything that will help me to better understand why it ruled as it did and I continue to struggle even now. It is obviously an understatement to say that those who made this ruling are lawyers, while I am not, and they understand all of the fine points that demanded a favorable ruling while I do not.
I try and will continue to do so, to believe that this decision had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with law. But then I think; why should the few rule the many? Why should a few billionaires and millionaires have the power to run America and determine her future and which path she will take to get there while all other Americans stand on the sideline and watch? There must be a reasonable nexus that will allow me to reconcile these thoughts and the favorable Citizens United ruling which, up to this point, I have just not been able to comprehend.
I believe that big money and politics make terrible bedfellows. It is almost impossible to decipher and rule out quid-pro-quo, let alone the appearance of quid-pro-quo, when it comes to politicians and their relationships with big business and other big money people. That is why we need election reform that will take big money out of the equation.
Big business and other big money should have their fair say in how America is run just like everyone else but they should not have a greater say than anyone else; especially the single voice of the majority! The problem right now seems to be that the voices of big business and other big money are being heard to a greater extent and to the detriment of everyday Americans.
Until election reform occurs and big money is no longer driving the election process, I will continue to struggle to make sense of the Citizens United ruling. And should this by a lot of hard work or some miracle happen, I still might not be able to understand the ruling but at least it should provide me with some much needed help in my effort to understand it. Even if it doesn’t help me to finally achieve the reconciliation, the issue would likely be rendered moot anyway because the removal of big money from the election process would go a long way toward leveling the playing field between it and the everyday American.
But for now I will accept things as they are while I continue to use the power of my vote in an effort to change them. I recommend that you do the same. In the meantime, do not become so frustrated with the system that you cease to participate in it because that will do more harm than good: always remember, your vote is the most important one of all…unless you don’t use it!