Category Archives: Corruption in US politics

The Supreme Court’s Ideology: More Money, Less Voting

The Supreme Court’s Ideology: More Money, Less Voting

“Now we have McCutcheon v. FEC, where the Court, in yet another controversial 5-4 opinionwritten by Roberts, struck down the limits on how much an individual can contribute to candidates, parties and political action committees. So instead of an individual donor being allowed to give $117,000 to campaigns, parties and PACs in an election cycle (the aggregate limit in 2012), they can now give up to $3.5 million, Andy Kroll of Mother Jones reports. 

The Court’s conservative majority believes that the First Amendment gives wealthy donors and powerful corporations the carte blanche right to buy an election but that the Fifteenth Amendment does not give Americans the right to vote free of racial discrimination.”

 

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Noam Chomsky: America hates its poor

Noam Chomsky: America hates its poor

“The enormous benefits given to the very wealthy, the privileges for the very wealthy here, are way beyond those of other comparable societies and are part of the ongoing class war. Take a look at CEO salaries. CEOs are no more productive or brilliant here than they are in Europe, but the pay, bonuses, and enormous power they get here are out of sight. They’re probably a drain on the economy, and they become even more powerful when they are able to gain control of policy decisions.”

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Noam Chomsky: America’s infrastructure is broken

Noam Chomsky: America’s infrastructure is broken

“They were General Motors, Standard Oil of California and, I think, Firestone Rubber. The origins of suburbia reveal an attempt to take over a fairly efficient mass-transportation system in parts of California—the electric railways in Los Angeles and the like—and destroy them so as to shift energy use to fossil fuels and increase consumer demand for rubber, automobiles and trucks and so on. [29] It was a literal conspiracy. It went to court. The courts fined the corporations $5000, or something like that, probably equivalent to the cost of their victory dinner.[30]

But what happened in California started a process that then expanded—and in many ways. It included the interstate highway system. That was presented as part of the defense against the Russians. It was launched under the Interstate Defense Highway Act of 1956, and was intended to facilitate the movement of people and goods, troops and arms, and, allegedly, to prevent overpopulation in specific areas that could become the focus of nuclear attack. [31] The slogan of defense is the standard way of inducing the taxpayer to pay the cost of the next stage of the hi-tech economy of course.[32] That’s true whether it be computers, the Internet or, as in this case, a car-based transportation system.[33]

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Tea Party politics: A look inside the Republican Suicide Machine

Tea Party politics: A look inside the Republican Suicide Machine

Republicans were also ecstatic when the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision undermined the system of regulated campaign finance. But this boon to the wealthy donor class has become the bane of those trying to forge party unity. Now donors can microtarget the faction of Republicanism that suits them best. “There’s a difference between rich Republicans used to working through K Street and the guy who just sold his plumbing business and happens to be a total libertarian winger,” says the think-tank fellow. The rise of outside money has made a mockery of what used to be the leadership’s biggest stick: “If leadership says, ‘We’re not going to fund you if you don’t vote with us,’ the members laugh,” the strategist says. “‘Keep your $10,000. I’m going to take $200,000 from an outside group.’ Or better yet, ‘I’m going to start my own Super PAC and send out e-mails about how John Boehner is standing in the way of our shared values.'”

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/inside-the-republican-suicide-machine-20131009page=4#ixzz2iButc0Mb 
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

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Meet the Republicans Who Gobbled Millions in Farm Subsidies and Voted To Slash Food Stamps (VIDEO)

Meet the Republicans Who Gobbled Millions in Farm Subsidies and Voted To Slash Food Stamps (VIDEO)

“Between 1995 and 2011 US tax payers gave away 6.2 million dollars in farm subsidies just to members of Congress or their immediate families. Farm subsidy payments are released yearly to recipients who claim them and are issued  regardless of financial or economic need. A Senate Bill  from 2012 which attempted to make changes to the way the farm subsidies are paid out, was shot down by the same Congressional representatives who continuously demand requirements like drug testing, income documentation, work or training, time limits and many other harsh guidelines for impoverished families who dare ask for help with food.” 

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Cornel West and the Fight to Save the Black Prophetic Tradition

Cornel West and the Fight to Save the Black Prophetic Tradition

“It is understandable why this tradition frightens Obama. It exposes him as the ideological heir of Booker T. Washington, a black accommodationist whose core message to black people was, in the words of W.E.B. Du Bois, “adjustment and submission.” The wide swath of destruction Obama has overseen on behalf of the corporate state includes the eradication of most of our civil liberties and our privacy, the expansion of imperial war, the use of kill lists, abject subservience to Wall Street’s criminal class and the military-industrial complex, the relentless persecution of whistle-blowers, mass incarceration of poor people of color and the failure to ameliorate the increasing distress of the poor and the working class. His message to the black underclass in the midst of the corporate rape of the nation is drawn verbatim from the Booker T. Washington playbook. He tells them to work harder—as if anyone works harder than the working poor in this country—and obey the law.”

Great article!

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Millennials, it is not only money that corrupts democracy, but also the two-party system

Americans know that many of their elected officials are corrupt and compromised by money in politics, by lobbyists, and by wanting to win elections. What many don’t know, or fail to discuss is that it is our two-party system that also has a lot to do with having horrible candidates to choose from and with a gridlocked Congress. Many Americans have noticed that Congress has become not only more polarized, but also hyperpartisan. Congressmen and women are more worried about winning elections than about solving problems for their constituents. We currently have a Congress that passes hardly anything, that seems pettier, that spends most of its time campaigning and that refuses to act maturely and compromise, and this actually has a lot to do with our two-party system.

It’s not about constituents, it’s all about party advantage

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said her priority was to elect more Democrats, Republican leader Mitch McConnell said his goal was to prevent President Obama from winning reelection. Mickey Edwards states in his article “How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans”, “With the country at war and the economy in recession, our government leaders’ first thoughts have been of party advantage.” He points out that “we elect our leaders, and they then govern in a system that makes cooperation almost impossible and incivility nearly inevitable, a system in which the campaign season never ends and the struggle for party advantage trumps all other considerations.” This can be seen through the background check legislation on guns that just failed partly because of the NRA lobby and partly because the Republicans refused to give the Obama Administration a win. When 90% of Americans want legislation on background checks and don’t get it, there’s something very wrong with democracy. It shows that those in Congress care more about making the other side look bad than about their constituents. It shows how everything becomes politicized.

Poliscienceblog argues that the problem is not polarization, but hyperpartisanship. It states, “So it isn’t that the parties are too far apart to agree; they simply don’t want to.” Although Democrats and Republicans have their ideological differences, it does seem that they are becoming more ideologically pure. Think of the Tea Party members that refuse to compromise and have moved more to the right. By sticking together Tea Party members have been able to block legislation on budget deals and even executive branch nominations, and have become obstructionists all in their goal to make President Obama look like a failure.

To be hyperpartisan is to respond to incentives

Nate Silver wrote in the NY Times that members of Congress are becoming hyperpartisan and it is because they are simply responding to incentives. He writes, “Most members of the House now come from hyperpartisan districts where they face essentially no threat of losing their seat to the other party. Instead, primary challenges, especially for Republicans, may be the more serious risk.” This is why you have probably seen that politicians pander to their base, not the middle. Nate also shows that polarization has also increased. It increased around 8% from 2008-2012. He writes, “For example, a district that was 25 percentage points more Democratic than the country as a whole in 2008 was about 27 percentage points more Democratic than the national average this year.” The same went for Republican districts. Nate says one of the firmest conclusions to be drawn is that Congress is motivated first and foremost by winning elections. He states, “If individual members of Congress have little chance of losing their seats if they fail to compromise, there should be little reason to expect them to do so.”

This is not our Founding Fathers’ democracy

Mickey Edwards points out that the democracy we have today is not what the Founders intended. George Washington and other presidents warned of the dangers posed by political parties. The parties that arose after the nation was founded were factions uniting on a few major issues, not agreeing on every single one. When you go to the polls in November, the names on the ballot have been reduced to a few candidates the political parties will allow you to choose from. As Edwards states, “Americans demand a multiplicity of options in almost every other aspect of our lives. And yet we allow small bands of activists to limit our choices of people to represent us in making the nation’s laws.” So it is not only money in politics that limits democracy, but the two-party system itself also. The political parties decide who will be on the ballot, but wouldn’t it be better for Americans if they chose? Wouldn’t that also open up primaries for individuals who truly care about being civil servants instead of just for those pre-approved by the parties?

No matter our political affiliation we are all Americans

The state of Congress and of American politics is horrendous and Americans deserve better than two-parties who only want to embarrass each other and make each other look bad in order to win elections. Americans need politicians that will share ideas, share solutions to problems and who will debate and engage with those across the aisle in order to solve problems and serve their constituents. There is a need for politicians who will answer to their own consciences and who are not afraid to go against their political party when it is in the interest of their constituents. (More politicians like Elizabeth Warren please.) Jeffrey Schwarz points out that the two-party system is no longer serving the interests of Americans. It is no wonder that according to Edwards nearly 40% of voters consider themselves “independent” and that Congress has an approval rating of 15%. I agree with him that a third party is needed to reign in candidates that are out of touch with mainstream America and who are really independents.

Like Edwards, I do not want a political ‘center’ since we are at a time when we need tremendous steps forward, nor am I asking for consensus because I think as he does, that it is impossible, but I think it rational to ask for compromise and for debate. And not that fake debate they show us either, where politicians know the questions beforehand and only allow certain questions. I think it rational to want for both sides to be able to give up something for the greater good without members being thought of as traitors to their parties. Having only two parties has turned Republicans and Democrats into adversaries when really they’re on the same team. The only thing these parties seem to be doing is creating divisiveness and animosity. So Millennials let’s look critically at our two-party system and decide if this is something we should keep or change. If juvenile behavior from grown women and men, politicization of every single issue, and failure to compromise because members face no threat of losing their seats is what comes of the two-party system then I want something new.

Here is Mickey’s article again, where he gives solutions to the problem of hyperpartisanship. From creating an “open primary” system to turning over the process of redrawing congressional districts to independent nonpartisan commissions. Think about it.

-Marina Espinoza

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Revolutionize election information online to get money out of politics

@mdowney84's blog

TL;DR – To most effectively fight money in politics we need to create a website that lets voters learn about and interact with allof their candidates on one convenient page. VoteSmart.org is building the comprehensive US candidate database needed to make this website, but their work is under-appreciated and they need your support.

If you don’t believe there is a problem with money in politics today, memorize this statistic: Between 2000-2010, the candidate that spent the most money on their Congressional campaign won 92% of the time.

There are several (but not many) organizations fighting the influence of money in politics today (e.g. Wolf-PAC, Represent.us, RootStrikers). Most of these organizations are focused entirely on campaign finance reforms or Constitutional amendments that would restrict the amount of money candidates receive, and require more disclosure as to the sources of donations. While these methods may help address…

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