Corruption in America

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"To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day." --Theodore Roosevelt. 

There is a general perception among the majority of Americans today that our political system is corrupt and our government is failing as a result. Most recently, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators speak to the very same kind of corruption which Theodore Roosevelt spoke of back in the 1920's. When government legalizes bribery and blackmail, these do not cease to be acts of corruption. This is precisely what has taken place in American government and politics, corrupting our system to the point of growing demonstrations in our American streets.
In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizen's United v. FEC that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited because of the right of these entities to free speech. This is the single most egregious source of corruption of government by business. It is a Frankenstein resurrection of the 'Unholy Alliance' between politicians and the wealthy in the business world which Theodore Roosevelt spoke of. The political parties have become the bag men carrying the 'legal bribes and blackmail' from Wall Street to Capital Hill.

If the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party founders, who denounced this corruption of our government, are to succeed in reducing the corruption, they must commit to the daunting task of accomplishing a Constitutional Amendment. Specifically, they must force passage of an amendment which prohibits corporate person-hood and the funding of election campaigns by the business and incorporated entities (which includes unions). So far, the Occupy Wall Street crowd has not set forth an agenda for action other than to arrive in the streets in groups and express dissatisfaction with the status quo.

It is not hard to understand why, either. The instant the Occupy Wall Street "organizers" establish a political policy initiative for change, the business world and political parties will immediately seize upon the their agenda to promote it as a danger to society and America's future, with 100's of millions of dollars of support for waging this war against the Occupy Wall Street crowd. This is a real dilemma for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

In a nutshell, if they don't promote concrete policy initiatives using their anti-incumbent vote to enforce it, politicians will pay lip service to their concerns without actually changing anything. If however, they do advocate concrete policy initiatives, the full weight of corporate wealth will descend upon their movement to discredit their policy initiatives. There is a profound lesson to be noted by all in a little covered election recently in New York as Bloomberg reports:

Evidence that voters are angry enough to kick out their own party was apparent Tuesday night when Republican Bob Turner won a special election in a U.S. House district in New York City with voter registration weighted toward the Democrats. "We are unhappy. I'm telling you. I am the messenger. Heed us," Turner said in a victory speech aimed at Washington.

If the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to grow into 2012, it may achieve sufficient public support to, in effect, pre-neutralize the millions of dollars that will be spent to discredit the movement's political initiatives. They will, of course, have to make a very big and public deal about predicting the actions of the wealthy special interests against them, before they announce concrete steps to effect the removal of private sector money from American politics and government legislative processes.

By publicly predicting the backlash of the wealthy special interests against them, attempts by those wealthy special interests to subvert their agenda will become self-indicting, in the public eye, thus neutralizing the effect of that money in the media arrayed against the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Of course, all of this analysis assumes the Occupy Wall Street movement gets around to establishing a leadership capable of tactical and strategic action toward accomplishing their objective. To date, the Occupy Wall Street movement is leaderless, which is one of its strengths for the time being, as being leaderless provides wealthy special interests little target to spend money on discrediting.

A constitutional amendment to remove money from politics and legislation will likely take years and several election cycles to accomplish. The Wall Streeters are already attempting to demonize demonstrators as 'mobs' and people engaged in 'class warfare'. If the Occupy Wall Street movement is to become endurable, it seems clear they must align themselves with an anti-incumbent voting agenda which can publicly measure their growth and effect upon the political system. If they do this, and the incumbent reelection rate drops with each passing election, the strength and durability of their organization and growth will be self-evident, attracting ever more Americans to their ranks.

If the Occupy Wall Street movement fails to devise a way to publicly demonstrate their growing appeal and effectiveness in changing political reality, the public will lose interest, in very much the same way that the Tea Party has lost its allure to the public at large, for failing to produce positive, measurable results.

Underpinning the rise of public demonstrations by the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements are the fundamental issues of democracy and self-determination, and whether, or not, the will of the majority of the people can trump the wealthy special interest minority in shaping our nation's future. Many, mostly on the political right, argue that our nation was not founded as a democracy because of fears of mob rule. And they are quite accurate in that statement.

However, this is not the 18th century, and with amendments to the Constitution which elect the president and senators by popular vote (despite the enduring Electoral College), America has grown toward democracy over the 19th and 20th centuries. Wall Street champions the Republic and abhors the idea of democracy. Wall Street's influence upon government would be seriously diminished if the American people, as a majority, had the power to veto Wall Street's agenda.

This is the underlying domestic war taking place in America today, between the wealthy few percent and the rest of the American people who have lost faith and confidence in Wall Street, the government, and the political system to promote the general welfare for all Americans. On one side there are the Wall Streeters who believe democracy is an evil thing - mob rule. On the other side are those who believe democracy has a place in our Republic as an enduring American strength to force change when change is most needed. Ours is, after all, a democratic republic; which is to say that it is a republic in which its leaders are democratically elected.

This tension between these factions is as old as our founding fathers, but, it is a rarer occurrence in American history that this tension flows into the streets of America in the form of protests and demonstrations. In our system, to effect legislative or constitutional change, these protesters must translate their actions into voting behavior on Election Day. In other words, they must elect persons who will represent their desire for a Constitutional Amendment to remove the influence of private money from our governing processes. That will amount to an enormous anti-incumbent process, since few current politicians have supported the idea of such an amendment.

Ultimately, who wins will depend upon the enduring nature of the American people to sustain their activism. If they can sustain it, they will prevail, as the people did in India in removing British rule and as the South African people did in ending Apartheid and Afrikaner Rule. Ironically, the worst thing that could happen to the Occupy Wall Street movement is for the economy to recover. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of growth for the Occupy Wall Street movement, as long as the GOP continues its campaign against economic recovery solutions in their attempt to foil their arch enemy, the Democrats.

As long as the media focuses on the war between the political parties, the American people will lose at the hands of the inaction and gridlock by those political parties. If however, the media can be forced to address the war between wealthy corporate influence and the future of the average American family, the American people will continue to gain strength and power in this war for their future. 

(This article was previously published at Vote Out Incumbents Democracy)

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on October 25, 2011 1:09 PM.

Occupy Wall Street Potential was the previous entry in this blog.

Is Peace In America's Future? is the next entry in this blog.

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