Wealthy Interests Decide Elections

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In a contradictory, and one of the worst thought out pieces of Washington Post writing I have read in a very long time, Shankar Vedantam both negates the power of wealthy special interests over our political system while closing with a warning if your opponents are giving more than you to your representatives. He blatantly contradicts himself. His topic however, could not be more momentous.

The 2008 election campaigns are racking up record breaking sums of campaign fund raising. I haven't seen the stats but, it's a sure bet that individual working American contributions to election campaigns have risen only slightly, while the giving by special interests, especially wealthy special interests, is unprecedented. With approval ratings for the President and Congress around, or below 29%, regular working Americans are not forking over record sums to elect more of the same in Wa. D.C.

Shankar Vedantam tries to make the case that wealthy special interests primarily give to the candidates already representing their interests. But, this is a chicken and egg question. Did candidates adopt positions that would be favorably treated by wealthy special interests, or did wealthy special interests contribute to those candidates they know will represent them, above the interests of the nation and the majority of the people? It's a futile debate.

The real issue is this. Will what benefits the wealthy special interest donors result in legislation and policy that strengthens our nation and benefits the American people? There are many examples where that is not the case. A couple billion dollars in tax subsidies in a Bill by Congress in 2005, a year of record profits for oil companies like Exxon/Mobil, is a case in point. If one looks closely at the current presidential race, the media is ruling out candidates who aren't raising the money, like John McCain and John Edwards, saying their campaigns are in trouble. But, it is not the people ruling out these candidates, it is the wealthy special interest donors who are selecting which candidates the public may choose from.

This bears repeating. it is not the people ruling out these candidates, it is the wealthy special interest donors and corporate media who are selecting which candidates the public may choose from in the primaries and general election in Nov. 2008. In other words, the wealthy special interests have taken control of which candidates are viable in the media by virtue of their fund raising for those candidates. With that kind of control, they can influence the selection process to reflect well ONLY on those candidates which will likely benefit them, long before the public even gets a chance to come to know those candidates, who were ruled out by the absence of fund raising from the wealthy special interests.

Howard Dean tried to raise money from the grass roots, and was very successful until the media and wealthy special interests refashioned his yell of enthusiasm as deranged, for public consumption. Barack Obama is waging a grass roots fund raising campaign and continues to trail Hillary's poll numbers. The money raised influences the polls. Large numbers of American voters erroneously follow the money raised as a sign of popularity. But, the money raised is not, by any means, a measure of popular public opinion on the candidate's positions. This early, most Americans don't even know what those positions are. It is instead, a measure of investment by wealthy special interests.

Barrack Obama and John McCain have both made overtures to the concept of reining in the corrupting influence of money in politics. Needless to say, that is not what the wealthy special interests want to hear. Hence, competitive fund raising is proving to be a challenge for McCain's and Obama's campaigns, and they are forced to go the grass roots path for fund raising. Think of what that means for candidates like Ralph Nader, or Dennis Kucinich, or, Ron Paul.

The more the media touts the mega dollars Hillary and Romney are raking in, the more difficult all other candidate's grass roots fund raising will become, because perception of money raised in large part determines the front runners during the fund raising campaign period. And voters don't want to commit to a candidate who isn't a front runner, because their status as a non-front runner implies they can't win. What's the point of donating to a candidate who can't win?

This psychology of campaign fund raising is precisely why it is becoming nearly impossible to elect a candidate who is willing to take on the wealthy special interests. Or, put another way, why it is nearly impossible to elect a candidate who will champion the nation's and people's interests over those of the wealthy special interests, whether that candidate is for the Congress or the White House.

Contrary to the Wa. Post's writer cited above, apologetic defense of our current political financing system is simply indefensible, if one assumes that government should derive its power from the consent of the people. The current system derives its power clearly from the consent of the wealthy special interests who control the perception of front runners based on money raised by the wealthy special interests. There is just no way around it. If the American people wish to take back government for themselves, they must in a majority vote against the candidates who raise the biggest bucks, and elect challengers willing to take on the wealthy special interests from their position in the government.

It is the people's government ONLY if the people can take it back for themselves and hold on to it. Otherwise, our government will remain a government of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy. And that means our nation's future is in great jeopardy. Even a philanthropist would be hard pressed to sacrifice their philanthropic ability to a sacrifice of wealth for a gamble on an unsure future. And our future is indeed, unsure.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on July 17, 2007 3:31 AM.

Why Changing Parties Changes Nothing. was the previous entry in this blog.

America's Authoritarian Government is the next entry in this blog.

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