single entendre: Clean Elections Fight Corporate Selections
Campaign Finance Reform For The Sake Of ALL Causes
Research Bibliography While Watching Video: http://altbib.com/r/226/ra/Wiki_World_Order_7._Clean_Elections_Fight_Corporate_Erections
Download Full High-Quality Video: http://WikiWorldOrder.org/download/episode7
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Welcome friends, to the Wiki World Order Report: peacefully replacing the corporate-industrial complex. This is episode seven, Clean Elections Fight Corporate Erections. Listener supported video and audio downloads, as well as transcripts with detailed documentation and Research-Along Theaters can be found for FREE online at WikiWorldOrder.org. And please check out Facebook.com/wikiworldorder for more frequent links to potent news, documents, and alternative media in between episodes. I’m your host, Morgan Lesko.
A lot of people feel their like votes are not worth anything anymore, and opt out of participating in that part of democracy. We can use non-participation in trinket capitalism could help defund the corporate-industrial complex, or really send a message via mass strikes. And I do think we need to out-grow our kleptocracy to replace it with a new decentralized system.
But I also strongly believe that while we plan for our future, we must simultaneously steer the present. I think we must maximize our participation in the community and political process in hopes of reclaiming it. It is the only way to change how our government spends its big money funding the status quo, while supposedly working on our behalf. If and when we out-grow our current government, whatever system we replace it with will hopefully embody the principles we establish and fight for right now within the current governing paradigm.
Reclaiming democratic freedom is far from included in your taxes…it takes real effort and real people power. It means…
- Informing yourself on important issues from many perspectives
- Voting in every election you can, and unelecting legislators who don’t represent you
- Frequently lobbying your elected representatives
- And even organizing groups in your community
No matter what system of human relationships rules your land, is it not your duty to help ensure it hears each of our voices?
There is a concept largely associated with the military-industrial complex known as the iron triangle. It describes the trading of economic and human resources between interest groups and the government to perpetuate and continually expand the industry. This technique is not just used by the military, but is replicated by many different industries. I argue that one of the primary starting points for these endless cycles is the electoral support in the form of campaign contributions. So if we target this part of the formula, perhaps we will finally be able to make progress in pushing some of these industries back.
I’ve learned from 20 years of experience as an activist that the U.S. House and Senate, and therefore our country, move extremely slow on most issues. The biggest corporate interests sponsor candidates on both sides of the aisle, with some industries supporting red a bit more than blue, but both sides of the duopoly are generally corrupt and co-opted. There are a few brilliant exceptions of course, but they are vastly outnumbered.
Many citizens have fought for DECADES trying to fix issues which are NO-BRAINERS when faced with the facts, so we don’t even get to the point of discussing the underlying problems of the crony capitalism running our system. I want to emphasize that we might have a chance at accomplishing the obvious steps, and then the even more difficult steps, by first cutting our legislative bodies free from their addiction to corporate purse strings. In addition to greatly helping all activist efforts, this could also to improve Congressional oversight over the top secret parts of our government…thereby improving OUR oversight over those private parts.
The US Senate and the House of Representatives are designed to most directly represent we the people. But members of Congress spend a great deal of their time trying to raise money for future or current campaigns, which could be spent legislating. These bodies have been perversely corrupted by trends like the over 12,000 registered lobbyists who spent over $3.5 Billion in 2010. We see bills defeated and passed by politicians who are loyal to their purse strings over their values and sense of equality and justice…usually more concerned about doing what is right for their careers instead of their constituents.
Between November 2008…and Sept. 30, 2009, the financial industry…has given $48.3 million in campaign contributions to members of Congress and their leadership political action committees…
…The 94 members of the two finance committees have received $16.9 million overall. The top 10 committee recipients include the Democratic chairmen: Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.); and the ranking Republicans on the committees: Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.) and Rep. Spencer Bachus (Ala.).
Also, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (opensecrets.org), Wall Street made up five of the top twenty contributors to Barack Obama‘s 2008 presidential campaign, and three of the top ten.
(* animation with added corporate logos of just a few familiar Wall Street donors to the signing ceremony for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Stats for other politicians in attendance can be found below *)
- Obama’s 7th largest contributor was JPMorgan Chase & Co: $695,132
- His 6th largest was Citigroup Inc: $701,290
- His 2nd largest was Government Sachs — I mean —- Goldman Sachs: $994,795
Now here we are in 2011 and we have still not seen real fundamental reforms of the financial sector to fix the root causes of the financial crisis…which was predicted by many. And after breaking the economy toward the end of the Bush administration, nobody from Wall Street has gone to jail. Instead, Wall Street has now just broken it’s all-time compensation record paying its employees a total of $135 billion in 2010, as unemployment stats remain consistently high despite being manipulated.
These systemic problems also dramatically worsened on January 21st, 2010 with the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission. The 5-4 decision held that “corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment.” This has opened the floodgates even more for corporate millions to affect the outcomes of elections. The Sunlight Foundation calculated that this case already enabled an extra $186 million to be spent in the 2010 election, or 40 percent of the total spent by outside groups.
In Justice Stevens’ dissent he wrote: “The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution.” Some propose a constitutional amendment to counteract this decision, which may in fact be worth all the effort it will require. Even if such an effort were unsuccessful, it may help rally the grassroots support needed to pressure for national reform through other legislative routes. According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, “80 percent of Americans likewise oppose the ruling, including 65 percent who ‘strongly’ oppose it, an unusually high intensity of sentiment.”
Even without the Citizens United case, the standard behavior inside the beltway disgusts me. Like corporations, too many politicians follow their bottom-lines, which generally translate to the needs of their biggest corporate sponsors. It is one thing to make compromises while bills are being crafted and written, but the way politicians trade votes on various unrelated legislation seems backwards to me.
Why wouldn’t our representatives vote on a bill-by-bill basis, based on whether a bill is wise and just?
Why would we want our representatives to vote for bills any differently than their actual positions on the given issue?
The political capital that trumps all in my book, is voting and leading from the heart, backed by the facts. That is perhaps the best we can ask of any politician.
What Do Clean Elections Look Like?
One of the secrets in all aspects of life is to envision the swish, before making the shot. There are many different types of reforms promoted, so I’ll do my best to provide a quick road map of the more popular paths towards various levels of reform.
While I focus here on the national level, most of these issues are applicable at each state’s level. Even though most state legislative bodies are also filled with corporate money, fighting for campaign finance reform in individual states is also required to make the whole country more representative of its citizens.
Improvement Set #1: Adding Sunlight (Transparency)
- A. Require groups that spend heavily on elections to disclose their donors (like the Disclose Act which passed the House but not the Senate in 2010).
- B. Require something like the top five donors of non-restricted funds to be listed on the screen at the end of a television advertisement.
Improvement Set #2: Shifting Voice Volumes
- A. Limit how much “hard money” can be directly given to political campaigns by political action committees and other corporate funded entities, including some kind of repeal of the Citizens United decision.
- B. Limit how much “soft money” can be given to political parties (and/or find better ways to enforce the laws).
- C. Give corporate shareholders greater say over how companies spend to influence elections.
- D. Prohibit foreign influence in Federal elections, and enforce it.
- E. Prohibit government contractors from making expenditures with respect to such elections.
- F. Apply some kind of equal-access formula for how legislators spend their time. “For example, after a legislator plays a round of golf or spends an evening being wined and dined, this public servant would devote the same amount of time seeking out constituents who cannot afford even a part-time lobbyist.“
Reform Model #1: Matching Funds
- This “method allows the candidates to raise funds from private donors, but provides matching funds for the first chunk of donations. For instance, the government might “match” the first $250 of every donation.“
- This already exists in Presidential primary elections, but could be extended to the rest of the election process.
- Unfortunately, this existing Presidential primary public financing is currently being challenged in Congress in a bill which has already passed in the House.
Reform Model #2: Voting with Dollars
- First Part: Patriot Dollars – each voter would get a maybe $50 voucher for patriot dollars to give to various presidential and congressional candidates.
- Second Part: Anonymous Donations – donations to any campaign would be masked by the FEC so candidates do not know for sure who donated.
Reform Model #3: Clean Elections/Clean Money
- This would give “each candidate who chooses to participate a certain, set amount of money. In order to qualify for this money, the candidates must collect a specified number of signatures and small (usually $5) contributions. The candidates are not allowed to accept outside donations or to use their own personal money if they receive this public funding. Candidates receive matching funds, up to a limit, when they are outspent by privately-funded candidates…”
- Some form of Clean Elections have already existed in the states of Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin, and in the cities of Portland, Oregon and Albuquerque, New Mexico…though not all have survived.
While I am not personally positive what model will work the best if implemented, I do think we desperately need some serious, systemic reform of campaign financing and I do like the Clean Elections/Clean Money model. If enacted, voters could also essentially boycott candidates who do not use public financing.
Since this is such an important issue, there are many groups working on it which you can check out. A few include:
- Sunlight Foundation – http://sunlightfoundation.com/
- Common Cause – http://www.commoncause.org/
- Public Campaign – http://www.publicampaign.org/
- Public Citizen with their Clean Up Washington campaign – http://cleanupwashington.org/cfr/
- Democracy 21 – http://www.democracy21.org/
So please sign up for national and local groups which focus on this issue to stay informed and take action when needed.
Billionaires and mega-corporations larger than most countries often donate a fraction of their profits to charities to improve their image for public relations. But very rarely does that generosity counter-balance the vast damage and inequity caused by their profit-maximizing over the years, decades, or centuries. Similarly, I feel we’ve reached a point where the vast majority of signed legislation benefits the Corporate-Industrial Complex, and the average citizen only gets a tiny charitable kick-back in benefits…for political public relations.
Strengthening the citizen representation in Congress and state legislatures with fundamental campaign finance reform could be the most vital step in bringing back our beautiful republic to replace our current plutocracy. So please use your voice to its maximum potential, in whatever way you are most creative, and consider making clean elections one of the big issues in the 2012 elections.
Thank YOU for listening, and participating in the Wiki World Order!
Appendix A: Signing Ceremony Participants’ Campaign Contributors
Top three for each politician listed here:
- Robin Fox, lady in white, is the communications chair for the Floyd County (Georgia) Democratic Party and a seventh grade science teacher
- Next to her was Andrew Giordano, a victim hurt by a couple of the policies being fixed by this bill
- Then Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) got totals of $67,475 from Bank of America (including their purchase of MBNA Corp), and $29,650 from Barclays, and $16,125 from AIG, with a grand total of $159,575 from all highlighted contributors, from 2003-2008
- Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) got totals of $45,500 from JP Morgan Chase, $35,800 from Credit Suisse, and $19,000 from H&R Block, with a grand total of $115,900 from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010
- Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) only got totals of $38,000 from CME Group, $24,000 from the American Bankers Association, and $20,330 from Wells Fargo, with a grand total of $96,330 from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010 (05-06, 07-08, 09-10)
- Timothy Geithner was PRE$IDENT of the FEDERAL RESERVE Bank of New York from 2003-2008
- Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) got totals of $37,350 from JP Morgan Chase, $34,900 from Goldman Sachs, $29,399 from Bank of America, with a grand total of $326,699 from all highlighted contributors , from 2005-2010
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) got totals of $50,000 from CME Group, $30,000 from UBS, and $30,000 from Wells Fargo, with a grand total of $246,100 from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010 (05-06, 07-08, 09-10)
- Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) got totals of $47,600 from NYSE Group, $35,050 from Bank of New York Mellon, and $34,250 from CME Group, with a grand total of $474,000 from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010 (05-06, 07-08, 09-10)
- Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) got totals of $66,850 from JP Morgan Chase, $50,300 from Goldman Sachs, $45,600 from Fidelity Investments, with a grand total of $221,250 from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010
- Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC) got totals of $33,250 from Bank of America, $26,500 from the American Bankers Association, and $20,500 from American Express, with a grand total of $214,972 from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010 (05-06, 07-08, 09-10)
- Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) only got totals of $8,500 from Fannie Mae, $3,000 from the American Bankers Association, and $3,000 from Morgan Stanley, with a grand total of only $19,900 from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010 (05-06, 07-08, 09-10)
- Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) got totals of $111,100 from Citigroup, $93,100 from the Royal Bank of Scotland, and $87,700 from AIG, with a grand total of $885,400! from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010
- Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) got totals of $44,950 from Bank of America, $44,650 from Citigroup, $35,400 from American Express, with a grand total of $392,850 from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010 (05-06, 07-08, 09-10)
- Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) got totals of $105,050 from Fidelity Investments, $49,000 from CME Group, and $47,000 from Bank of America, with a grand total of $581,800! from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010 (05-06, 07-08, 09-10)
- Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS) got totals of $25,119 from QC Holdings, $25,000 from the American Bankers Association, and $24,000 from Bank of America, with a grand total of $297,819 from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010 (05-06, 07-08, 09-10)
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) only got totals of $26,000 from CME Group, $15,700 from QC Holdings, and $14,500 from Citigroup, with a grand total of $82,200 from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010 (05-06, 07-08, 09-10)
- Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) got totals of $65,800 from JP Morgan Chase, $31,000 from UBS, and $30,000 from the American Bankers Association, with a grand total of $279,150 from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010 (05-06, 07-08, 09-10)
- Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) got totals of $67,095 from JP Morgan Chase, $31,500 from H&R Block, and $27,000 from Capital One, with a grand total of $341,295 from all highlighted contributors, from 2005-2010
Appendix B: Issues I Care About Which Might Benefit From Clean Elections
I think if we had serious campaign finance reform, we’d have a much better shot at progress in issues I care about like…
- Ending ALL of the illegitimate wars around the world, for the sake of all the victims of these wars, and deconstructing the majority of the military-industrial complex
- Ending the Patriot Act, rendition, torture, and similar Constitution shredding policies
- Ending the Federal Reserve System, fractional reserve banking, derivatives and other legal financial Ponzi schemes
- Ending the War On Drugs which among other things, imprisons far too many citizens and keeps minorities disproportionally disenfranchised and oppressed, a modern incarnation of the old Jim Crow laws
- Curbing large-scale pollution and using alternative energies and overunity energies to end our dependence on oil and coal…using solutions that DO NOT try to solve the problem by creating new legal Ponzi schemes to keep the profit-maximizers happy
- Creating a true public option to provide all citizens with universal health care, and supporting not-for-profit private health care options (see episode 4 on social businesses)
- Protecting farmers from the Monsanto food paradigm
- Basic animal rights to prohibit various forms of large-scale and legal torture
- Attaining full and equal legal rights for all citizens of all sexual orientations and identities
Appendix C: Episode Music – Clean Elections Fight Corporate Erections
Download Full High-Quality Music Video: http://WikiWorldOrder.org/video/music/Wiki_World_Order-Clean_Elections_Fight_Corporate_Erections.divx
To Trish for animating the Iron Triangle! http://www.madebytrish.com/