My interests are varied, ranging from the more mundane issues to those which are global. What I wanted to talk about this week falls between the two. Something which I have only become more aware of as I have grown older is domestic politics and how important they are.
Disproportionate to how important it is, is my impact on it. Now that’s not exactly the most groundbreaking of revelations. I only have one vote to cast. I, however, have an issue with how little impact the general public’s votes have on policy.
Now in a republic, especially one with a two-party system, it’s hard to get a representative who will directly align with your values or desires.
However, since 2010, the representatives of our country have had two agendas. What needs to be promised to get elected and what needs to be done to make sure corporate backers keep the coffers full. Usually these two agendas are at odds with the other.
In an ideal republic, the more public support something has the more likely it is to pass, much like a positive trending line. In the United States, however, that line is straight across about a third of the way up on the graph.
What that basically means is that of the amount of public support an act or bill has does not matter.
However, the more a corporation or collection of corporations supports something, the more likely it is to pass. If a corporation does not like a bill or act it will not pass. This is true for both sides of the aisle, and needs to be addressed.
For every dollar a union or public interest raises, a corporation can and will spend $34. This is what Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission allowed. The Supreme Court found that corporations are individuals and donation limits were not necessary for elections.
I find this idea rather absurd. Corporations cannot be found guilty of the same crimes as an individual. A corporation can’t be tried for murder, buy a house, or get an abortion. Yet corporations with vast amounts of resources get to decide policy.
I fail to see how that makes any sense whatsoever. If an individual that happens to own a corporation wants a certain policy to pass, they should vote and donate a limited amount.
What we have now allows a handful of very wealthy individuals to use resources, which they derive from sales to the general public or government agencies to begin with, to overpower public opinion.
To give an example, say I am a weapons manufacturer. I make money by selling not only to civilians, but to the military as well. I use these profits to make a PAC of other weapon manufacturers.
We donate most of our profits to an important politician, preferably one with large amounts of sway.
When it’s time to decide the federal budget, we just remind our politician we have been donating to that we want most of the budget to go our way, otherwise they can find campaign money from somewhere else.
Our politician then makes sure more money than we donated is sent our way. We raise our prices so we can get more money per sale, and then we repeat the process.
What I just used as an example is what exactly happens. The taxpayer pays companies to effectively decide policy one way or another.
There are some ways to minimize this issue. Most obvious is to strip corporations of personhood, and bringing back donation limits. Members of Congress should be elected; not bought and paid for.
Less obvious is also changing what we allow members of Congress to do. Decreasing pay, and banning them from the stock market are both valid ways to mitigate the issue. This makes being a representative less appealing.
That way only people who want to do it are the ones doing it, not individuals who just repeat a buzzword or phrase. If the government set aside a budget per candidate to use for campaigning, no one would be beholden to money for politics.