There is a growing populist rage in America. This first became obvious with the Tea Party movement, but it has been brewing since the Savings and Loan scandals of the 80’s, and fomented by the accounting swindles, dot.com collapse, and analyst scandals of the 90’s. Only recently has this rage grown to a level where people are taking notice. Not only are they taking notice, but they are standing up in solidarity with one another and decrying the injustice of the growing economic inequality in this country.
This country was created as “the Great Experiment” in democracy. It was conceived as a representative democracy, which means that the citizens use their votes to influence the course of their own governance. Due to many negative influences (the power of the political parties, the development of a two-party system, ineffective and incompetent leadership in Washington and subsequent apathy and hopelessness bred and allowed to fester in the electorate), we have slipped into a “corporatist” democracy. Only now are people waking up (finally) and fighting back against the corporations and the money that controls politicians and the government.
In order for this movement to have an impact and create the change the World is crying-out for, we need to have an implementable political agenda. That agenda must be clear and focused, and most importantly it must NOT be able to be co-opted by either political party. Political parties only have one true agenda – building their own wealth and power. If they see an agenda they can stand behind, they then co-opt that agenda and take-over the populist movement (as witnessed by what happened to the Tea Party), effectively knocking-down the voice and intent of the protest. The changes we implement must be big and dramatic. We need to implement changes to the political process matters that have been changed, bent and skewed so much over the last 30 years that they are unrecognizable. If we do not change the bastardized process matters, any change that comes is likely to only be temporary.
1) Take back our elections:
Over the past 30 years, the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly on campaign finance reform, finding against voters and in favor of corporate interests (most recently with the Citizen’s United case). The only way to take our elections (and subsequently our government) back is through a Constitutional Amendment. Under our current system of corporate fascism, our officials are bought and sold to the highest bidder. This is a system in which corporate profits are privatized and their losses are socialized., yet supporters of universal health care are decried as “socialists” or worse. We have to take the power back! We must become a true representative democracy again, where one man one vote matters. In order to do that, Wall Street money must be taken out of the process. The only way to accomplish this goal and have it withstand Supreme Court review is a Constitutional Amendment, mandating the public financing of Congressional elections and criminalizing the purchase of politicians. A national campaign calling for a Constitutional Convention to get that amendment on every ballot in every state must be the objective. Corporations are NOT people!
2) Take back the Congress:
We also need to implement term limits in Congress. Washington was RIGHT! The real problem in our government is the growth in power and influence of the political parties. The political parties wealth and power grow in a government of the “professional politician.” We find it offensive that both the GOP and the Democratic Party have expressed their intent to raise “at least $1 Billion” each to secure victories in the 2012 election. The parties only serve to drive wedges between the electorate with institutionalized “divide and conquer” platforms. They use emotional, social agendas to their advantage and have only served to make politics so divisive, vitriolic and ineffective that the result is an apathetic and hopeless citizenry who have become disengaged from the political process. Only the parties benefit from a political environment in which a) people don’t even want to talk about politics with their friends, family and neighbors and b) only 50% of eligible voters turnout for Presidential elections, and 10-20% of registered voters show-up for state and local elections (which are arguably more important than the presidential election). The founder’s of our great nation imagined a government of citizen legislators. They felt that politics was an essential part of everyday life and believed it was a citizen’s civic duty to get involved in our government. Implementing term limits and thus eliminating the “career” politician is essential to bringing back our pride in governance and accountability to the governed.
3) Take the markets back
We must immediately repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (also known as the “Citigroup Exception”) and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, while reinstating the full protections of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. This will allow the breaking-up of the financial monopolies and end the “too big to fail” financial conglomerates that caused the catastrophe that led to the global economic meltdown and the TRILLIONS of dollars in bailouts from Congress and the Fed at the taxpayers expense. The bailout of the TBTF Wall Street entities has created an environment that has only served to reduce economic competition, concentrate risk, and raise costs for consumers. The bailouts have also made the top 10 financial conglomerates an even bigger, less competitive oligarchy. We also need to call on our Representatives and Senators to force the CFTC to begin enforcing the new regulations called for in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. This will effectively end the blatant speculation by the gamblers on Wall St.in the commodities markets responsible for driving-up prices (of oil for instance) by creating false demand.
4) Take back REAL capitalism
The United States was once a capitalist system. Companies lived and died on their own successes. “Corporate Welfare” – the term coined by Wisconsin senator William Proxmire – came into being in 1971 with the bailout of Lockheed Aircraft. Thus began a run of corporatism and bailouts of connected companies, NOT capitalism. Some firms, less than successful in a competitive marketplace, chose instead to suckle at the teat of the public trough. Innovation, execution and hard work were replaced with lobbying, crony capitalism and bailouts of failure. Of course, all paid for by taxpayers. “Socialize losses, privatize gains” has been the rallying cry of crony capitalism ever since. This is what the US has morphed into. America needs to end this system of spoils. There should be no more bailouts, no more crony capitalism, no more government determined winners and losers!
These four goals are issues that both the Left and the Right — Libertarians, Conservatives and Liberals — should be able to agree upon. These are all doable measurable goals, that can have a real impact on legislation, the economy and taxes. But amending the Constitution to eliminate dirty money from politics is an essential task. Failing to do that means backsliding from whatever gains are made. Whatever is accomplished will be temporary without campaign finance reform . . .