Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How Citizens United might benefit the liberal cause - with a caveat

I love replies to my blog posts. When I get a reply (which isn't very often *sob!*) I find interesting and compelling new information that helps me to check my facts, that provides informative insight that I had not considered before and that, at the very least, provides some proof that people are actually reading my blog. I really do enjoy the replies, so please feel free to respond to any and all.

Today, I'd like to share with you an article sent to me by Eric C. Jacobson, Public Interest Lawyer. He responded to my post, Let Trump feed the GOP these words, "money is speech", with a very interesting and very well informed perspective on Citizens United. Further, he says that there are liberal billionaires out there who are willing to support liberal causes with their money and that Citizens United frees their hand where it was not free before. He provides several very good examples of such people, billionaires who are sympathetic to the liberal cause and that are willing to throw their money into the race.

Mr. Jacobson does a masterful job of laying out the history that is the backdrop of this presidential campaign. In his article he has brought forth the reserved vitriol I would expect from an attorney, and does so with a certain poetic flair. His article is quite informative and provides a unique perspective on how the 1% amassed their power and how they have taken their toll on the middle class. He also provides an ominous warning that only the well-funded candidates win the presidency.

I found his article most instructive with the following passage:
A lost footnote to history (a highly important one) is the established FACT that “campaign finance reform” laws were first proposed during the Nixon administration in 1969 as a CONSERVATIVE response to Eugene McCarthy’s electoral insurgency. The proponents were Congressional incumbents who wanted to make it harder for challengers to acquire the funds realistically needed to get their alternative messages out to the voters. 
Here, Mr. Jacobson sets up his main point that Citizens United has freed the hands of all billionaires to contribute to their campaigns of favor, especially the liberal billionaires by neutering certain campaign finance laws. Mr. Jacobson has even set up a SuperPAC dedicated to the sole purpose of giving the Bernie Sanders for President campaign a serious lift.

While I applaud Mr. Jacobson's efforts to promote Bernie Sanders, I must admit having somewhat mixed feelings about his efforts with the SuperPAC he created. I'm not here to denigrate him or his SuperPAC for I want Bernie to win, too. It may well be that we need this SuperPAC to provide the outlet that liberal billionaires need to put their money where it will best support Bernie.

But I have several concerns that should ultimately be addressed sooner or later, but they must be addressed. I offer the following with the utmost respect for Mr. Jacobson. First off is the fact that Bernie is not just running a campaign for election to the highest office in the land. He is the head of a social movement to address the injustices of institutionalized inequality in all areas of life, not just economic policy. That movement is a movement of ideas, not money.

Second, as I've noted in my blog previously, billionaires make their money from businesses, often large private monopolies that provide products or services with few if any alternatives. When profits from those businesses are used as political contributions, the customers of those businesses become unlikely and perhaps unwitting supporters of politics they would never support. This why I promote and support candidates like Bernie Sanders and the SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs, mayday.us.

There is one last point I want to make. The reason we have such deep corruption in our government, at nearly every level is this pervasive sense of entitlement that the wealthy have. When the wealthy make a political contribution, they have a reasonable expectation of getting something in return. This sense of entitlement that I speak of is in direct conflict with every ideal of democracy.

There is no question that we must fight fire with fire. But fire is a dangerous servant and a terrible master. I believe that our democracy, like others before it, must decide what is more important, money or ideas. If we go with the money our democracy is almost surely lost. The only way to save our democracy is for our elected representatives to be dependent on the people alone. All of them.
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