The economy tanks and taxpayers foot the bill. A continued occupation of two Muslim nations at a cost of $1 trillion. A crippled attempt at insurance reform. Still no significant financial reform to stave off another meltdown. Too big to fail remains the law of the land. A mine explodes; 29 dead. The worst oil spill in our history, with 11 killed. A humanitarian flotilla attacked and 9 activists executed Rambo-style. What do all these news events have in common? They are all the end result of our nation’s corrupt campaign financing system.
Congress grills the CEOs of BP. Sound bites for the constituents back home. Great political theater. But does anyone expect anything to come from it? Hardly. Why?
Because the real problem is not Goldman Sachs, Wellpoint, Massey Energy, BP or the Israeli government. They’re simply doing what they’re doing because they can. There’s no one to stop them because the nightwatchman on duty has been slipped a brown envelope. It’s called a campaign contribution.
Let’s face it: corporations and lobbyists rule Capitol Hill, not to mention the White House and the courts. As Senator Dick Durbin remarked last year regarding the banking industry’s unbridled influence in Congress, “They frankly own the place.” No one was surprised at that. So why are we surprised that this country is so boogered up? Why are we shocked that millions of our nation’s waterfowl now have to be rinsed in Dawn?
With one blow we can prevent a lot of these problems from reoccurring by reforming our campaign financing system. Probably the majority of our leaders truly want to serve the people who elected them– at least, they started out that way. But if you have to spend most of your time in constant campaign mode, shaking constituents for money to fill your war chest, it’s mighty tempting to settle for one big check.
So while we’re busy rapping CEOs on the knuckles and searching for walruses in the Gulf, let’s not forget to attack the root of the problem and pressure our lawmakers to do the same. We may be the “small people” but there’s more of us, and we can make a big noise.