HIGHTOWER: The 1999 Presidential Election

Have you voted for president yet? I know, the election technically is not until next year, but the votes already are pouring in -- 103 million ballots have been cast as of mid-year this year.These are the "dollar ballots" that have been cast in America's money primary -- the election that let's corporate executives, lobbyists, and wealthy individuals decide who the real contenders are next year by bankrolling them this year to the tune of millions of dollars. The result is that our choices for president in 2000 will have been narrowed down by these moneyed interests to a handful of candidates who have already pledged to support the economic policies of -- guess who? -- the moneyed interests! These interests don't care who wins, because they're financing all of them.Yet, the Powers That Be are trying to perpetuate the myth that this money equals democracy -- that putting up money is the way we Americans have of exercising our free speech rights. But if we swallow that dose of BS, then we have to admit we don't have a democracy, but a plutocracy -- for the great majority of people don't have $1,000 to put into a candidate. In fact, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group analyzed all the contributions to presidential candidates in the first half of this year and found that only .02 percent (two one-hundredths of one percent) of Americans gave a thousand bucks to any candidate.The U.S. PIRG report, titled "Running For The Money," also finds that the leading contenders have gotten most of their war chests from this tiny minority of $1,000 donors -- two-thirds of Gore's money comes from them, Bush got three-fourths of his money from them, and Bradley got 82 percent of his money from them.Now, who are Bush, Gore, or Bradley going to represent -- the 99.98 percent of us who don't have $1,000 to give to them ... or the elite few who are financing their campaigns?This is Jim Hightower saying ... To get a copy of PIRG's report, go to their web site: www.pirg.org.

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