We’ve All Been Stiffed: It’s Time to Shift from Complaining About the Plutocratic Corruption of Our Country to Stopping It
The time has come. Six years after the Supreme Court’s malignant Citizens United ruling, nearly every American plainly sees how our nation’s historic, political ethic of citizen equality — “one person one vote” — has been buried in a roaring avalanche of corrupt, corporate money and voter suppression. Moreover, nearly nine years after Wall Street thieves wrecked our economy, the great majority also plainly sees that the court’s turbo-charge of money politics has produced economic policies that richly reward the plutocratic robbers and coldly abandon the robbed.
There’s no need to convince the American people that they’ve been stiffed. As they reveal in poll after poll, they know it, for they’re experiencing it personally, and they’re furious at the business-as-usual establishment that has done it to them. A major, non-partisan survey taken last September by Public Policy Polling found:
— 80 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Democrats “strongly agree” that special interest money has too much influence in political campaigns. Only 4 percent in either party disagreed.
— 85 percent of GOP primary voters and 86 percent of Democrats agree that elections would be less corrupt if candidates focused on small donations from ordinary people, rather than on big money from special interests.
— 62 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats agree that America needs public funding of elections. Similarly, a New York Times/CBS poll last summer found that across the entire political spectrum.
— 85 percent of Americans think that officeholders “promote polices that directly help” the special interests that funded their campaigns.
— 85 percent say that the present system of financing political campaigns must either be “fundamentally” changed (39 percent) or “completely rebuilt” (46 percent).
— 77 percent say the unlimited amount of money that wealthy interests can now give to candidates should be … well, limited.
This powerful anti-Big Money sentiment is also part of what has fueled establishment-stunning Bernie and Donnie presidential runs, and it’s why we democracy rebels should shift now from complaining about the plutocratic corruption of our country to stopping it. The people are ready, and this hyper-political year is the time to move, for the presidential and congressional elections will focus public attention on the political system for months to come, and corporate and political cash will be on full display (from the Koch brothers’ Billionaire Money Bash to the garish corporate sponsorship of both parties’ national conventions).
While all of the establishment forces (and too many of our progressive leaders) have dourly told us commoners that we must resign ourselves to the new Citizens United order of court-sanctioned rule-by-money, the people themselves have not accepted that. But where could they turn for help since the leadership of both political parties either enthusiastically welcomed government of, by, and for the 1-percenters (the GOP) or — with a wink and a nod — agreed to go along with it in exchange for getting their own share of big money donations (the Democrats)? For six years, the broad public has been yearning for someone, something, some moment, to arise and rescue the founding ideals of 1776.
Well, here it is! And who are our rescuers? Us! This April, the Democracy Awakening and Democracy Spring are bringing together a diverse coalition of labor, business, environmentalists, public interest advocates, media and issue-specific constituencies, along with you, me and thousands of mavericks gathering in Philadelphia, Washington and around the country to fire a new democratic “shot heard ’round the world.” This will signal to the millions of members of the coalitions that we are not helpless in the face of an American plutocracy. And we can go on the offensive to inspire many millions more to shuck the idea that the majority is powerless and to step up with a renewed sense of our own possibilities.
The moment is ripe to rally a People’s rebellion, intervene in this year’s elections with a clear change agenda, and make this moment the turning point for implementing those changes. Just getting such a myriad of diverse reform forces to join hands in such an effort is an auspicious sign that maybe — just maybe — we can bind our forces into an effective populist movement for the long haul, rebuilding America’s democratic promise for the greater good of all.