A "10%" plan to get big money out of politics

As has been noted, our Democratic Party often resembles a coalition of disparate groups, each working alone on its individual agenda and strategies.  Whether they represent unions, environmentalists or whatever, even when their initiatives enjoy broad popular support, each group too often loses the battle to get legislators to vote for their bills FOR THE EXACT SAME REASON.  Our Democratic and Republican members of Congress are pressured by a deeply flawed and unfair system to reject what is popular and in the best interest of the Country in favor of what will ensure their re-election; namely raising enough campaign funds and avoiding becoming the target of rich and powerful special interests.

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling on Citizens United v. FEC has made the above named problem a thousand times worse.  

Doug Kendall, writing for Huffington Post, succinctly describes the danger this legislation poses;

To see the significance of this, consider that in his historic run to the presidency, Barack Obama broke every political fundraising record, raising nearly $750 million from more than a million contributors in 2007 and 2008. This sounds impressive until you consider that during 2008 alone, ExxonMobil Corporation generated profits of $45 billion. With a diversion of even 2 percent of these profits to the political process, Exxon could have far outspent the Obama campaign and fundamentally changed the dynamic of the 2008 election, perhaps even the result.

But by so strongly and treasonously siding with corporations at the expense of individual Americans on who gets to govern our democracy, that Supreme Court ruling has forced our hand in addressing a "money in politics" problem that we should have attacked long ago. According to this article in The Hill, our Democratic Congress will work to pass legislation that overturns Citizens United v. FEC by July 4th, so that major corporations cannot commandeer our upcoming election this fall.

A powerful result of the 2008 global recession is that both Progressive and Conservative voters are now enraged with the rich banks and other corporations whose greed, selfishness, and recklessness have cost so many so much. This rare dynamic provides us the VERY RARE opportunity to go BEYOND nullifying Citizens United v. FEC, and ultimately pass much stronger campaign finance and lobbying reform.

But our Democratic interest groups can only take advantage of this huge opportunity if they are smart enough to agree to work together on this goal. Each group should agree to devote at least ten percent of their time and resources to fighting the battle to get big money out of politics. To fight climate change, or for a more fair economy, or for better health care, without also fighting campaign finance and lobbying laws is a recipe for failure. In other words, we can continue fighting, and mostly losing, a thousand individual battles, or we can come together to wage full-scale war to get big money out of politics, and begin to win those individual battles much more easily and at far less cost.

Democratic groups must band together to wage full-scale war to pass campaign finance and lobbying reform now when this very rare opportunity has opened. Our Democratic groups can no longer afford to go it along, fighting and losing battle after battle because our members of Congress are, by necessity, more beholden to the interests who pay for, or can prevent, their re-election than by the American public.

This diary is a call for organized, intelligent action by our Democratic groups. The time has never been more ripe for doing this, and the window of opportunity will not last forever. Let’s seize the day on, and come together to ensure that when Congress acts next month to reverse Citizens United v. FEC, the campaign will serve as a platform for getting our Democratic groups and the voting public aware of how important campaign finance and lobbying reform is to passing strong and effective popular legislation regardless of what that legislation is. We need to jump on the upcoming battle to nullify Citizens United v. FEC, and then swiftly move on to enacting stronger legislation as if all of the other issues we fight for depend on it. In a very real sense, they do.

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

Tags: Supreme Court, Citizens v. FEC, Democratic Agenda, Democratic Groups, campaign finance reform, lobbying reform (all tags)


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