Posted: 08/30/16 11:51
by Dave Mindeman
I do not get this constant obsession the press has about money in politics and access. Every day we get a new story about a large donor and the insinuation that there is "play for pay" or buying access.
Of course there is. Don't be obtuse. That is the system we have. That is the way it is done. I don't like it. Nobody likes it. But don't insult our intelligence with stories that make it sound unusual.
The Clinton Foundation reporting borders on ridiculous. Wealthy people donate a lot of money to a charity and then ask for attention? Wow, there is a shocking development.
Do you think that Sheldon Adelson gives millions to Republican causes just because he is a loyal guy? NO, he expects every political candidate to come running to his side the moment he requests it. It is how it is done. And the complaints about it are useless until we act to stop it with a Constitutional amendment or a court case that can work to overturn Citizen's United.
Picking on the Clintons or the Adelsons or the secret cabal of donors that are out there is kind of pointless. Democrats and Republicans are never going to unilaterally disarm when it comes to large contributions. Neither side can properly be expected to until we make a legal framework that makes sense.
Bernie showed us that it can work under the right circumstance, but even his small donor base was running out of gas at the end. Money in politics has become too hard to keep up with. Bernie supporters were getting tapped out. And frankly, the level of contributions of that magnitude cannot be sustained. And it should not have to be.
Money is not speech. There I said it - strike me down. It is not. Paying for words is not the same as speaking them with your own voice. Buying a commercial is not the same as thousands of people speaking on their own. A million dollar donor should not have the same power as a million $1 donors. It just does not make sense.
Money has been elevated into a virtual false deity. A political candidate with the power of ideas is drowned out by the candidate with millionaire backers.
Clinton is villified by the left and the right for the rich donor base they have built up for decades. But they are the counter balance to the right that has a larger and better funded network. The Clintons have allowed Democrats to compete with this Republican base of influential donors and lobbyists that control the House of Representatives, talk radio, many newspapers, and several media corporations.
All of this has to stop - and quite frankly it will probably take a Hillary Clinton presidency to have that chance. She has campaigned on an end to Citizens United. She wants to change this system. We often forget that it was a right wing attack on Hillary herself from the Citizens United group that started this whole Supreme Court mess in the first place.
It is going to take someone with a full understanding of the pros and cons to make a system that is fair and accountable.
Sure, you can find plenty of fodder about money in politics to complain about it for the rest of your life. Won't do you any good, but if it makes you feel better, please continue.
But until we get this system changed, we have to deal with it. And I would rather have the Clintons attempting to use that system for good purposes in the world rather than Republican donors simply buying out everything else.
If you think Donald Trump is going to stop wealthy people buying access, you have not paid attention to how he does business. It has always been how he operates. He knows nothing else - and even if he mouths the phrases that criticize it, he only does that because it is what he knows and he believes that it should simplified and more direct.
Money is a corrupting influence in American politics. I absolutely agree. But making the Clintons the prime example of this system is a naive surface grasp of the reality. The dark money is the real culprit and that pervades the Republican base - that is something you never see because there is no transparency.
We need Hillary Clinton in the White House and then we need to force some action on this issue.