2012

25 July 2012: Wealth plays a large role in elections

Wealth plays a large role in elections

If you have a gut feeling about this election being bought and paid for, go with it.  You’d be right. To that effect Senate Republicans have again blocked passage of the DISCLOSE Act, which would’ve required anyone donating $10,000 to a Super PAC.

DISCLOSE—Democracy Is Served by Casting Light on Spending in Elections—is not a new concept.  It’s been around for years.  In fact, in 2000 in the Land before Time, in the pre-Tea Party GOP, 14 strongly partisan yet arguably thoughtful Republicans, including Senators Susan Collins (ME), Chuck Grassley (IA), Orrin Hatch (UT), Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), Jon Kyl (AZ), Richard Lugar (IN), John McCain (AZ), and Olympia Snowe (ME), voted for a similar bill.  They were for it before being against it.

It’s a new America we live in however, and one of its founding principles, repugnant and obscene, is that cash equates to money.  Those with abundance of greenbacks, by hook or crook, enjoy proportionally greater First Amendment rights.  In this new not-so-brave, Max beyond the Thunderdome nation, corporations are now people.  I guess God’s work was imperfect; it took the Supreme Court to finish the task.

Ten grand to fatcats like David and Charles Koch, who bankroll Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), and Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, number eight on the list of richest Americans, is chump change.  To Mitt Romney too: Recall the bet he tried to make with Texas governor Rick Perry in the Republican debates.

The rightwing talking point/term for DISCLOSE is “gimmick.”  Listen or look for it when hearing or reading commentary in opposition to the bill.

If you turn on your TV, even at the minimalist level to catch the weather forecast, you are already being bombarded with bombastic ads, coming from campaigns and Super PACS that now have free rein to spew whatever venom they choose.

Colorado is now a battleground state.  The dominance of the right, based in Colorado Springs, has been broken over the past decade.  That isn’t stopping the two top Republican elected officials, Secretary of State Scott Gessler and Attorney General John Suthers, from using their offices to alter that reality.

It’s called voter suppression.  Gessler and Suthers, aided and abetted by their media allies on the right, scream it’s about voter fraud.  The latest number thrown out by their offices is that perhaps up to 5,000 “illegals” might’ve voted in the past election.  Out of a voting population of 3,500,000, that equates to 0.0014285714285714 percent.  To uncover those needles in the haystack, they need to tap into the Department of Homeland Security data base to scrub the fraudulent voters from the rolls.  In the meantime, the stench of graft in political spending passes their nose tests.

Gessler has also ordered county clerks not to send mail-in ballots to anyone who did not vote in the 2010 mid-term elections.  Now, who do you suppose probably chose not to vote at the time when the Tea party was ascendant?  It certainly was not the rabid, hardcore, anti-Obama right.

Republican control is not about governance but about power.  It’s not about problem solving, but imposing a rigid ideology—social, political, and economic—upon society.

In Republican orthodoxy, there are no shades of gray, only black and white, right or wrong, with us or against us positions.  Pragmatism has no place, and the platitude of personal liberty is merely a smokescreen for imposing a fundamentalist agenda.

What might’ve been once mainstream Republican ideas—the mandate in the Affordable Care Act, for example—are now rejected and ridiculed.  The cliff overlooking the ocean is to the right, and the lemmings are rushing maddeningly pell-mell for it.

We have a month before the traditional kick off of both the football season and election campaign.  While the crushing and bone-crunching impacts might be cause for queasiness and discomfort, nonetheless it is your duty as a citizen to participate.  You’re one of the refs, the ones with the flags and who get to make the final call about which side scores the winning touchdown.

It’s not pretty, but the ongoing struggle to preserve the Republic from the obscenity of abhorrent wealth requires it, for on November 7 we’ll know whether we’re still the United or the Corporate States of America.

Note of clarification: My concluding sentence in last week’s column was confusing.  It comes down to this about the Affordable Care Act:  Only “freeloaders” who refuse to carry insurance will be taxed or penalized.  If you already carry health insurance, the ACA mandate will not impact you.

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