No one knows where this unusual election cycle will take us, but Bernie Sanders, candidate for president, has been gaining in the polls even as he was flattered with a pot shot by the front runner
Never one to bask in what might prove temporary glory, Bernie is wasting no time in getting the important messages out there while he commands the spotlight as Hilary Clinton’s chief competitor for the Democratic nomination.
Today, that message focussed on campaign funding in the wake of Citizens United, agreeing with former president Jimmy Carter who has called it
“unlimited political bribery…a complete subversion of our political system, as a payoff to major contributors who want, and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election is over.”
Sanders has promised that, when Congress reconvenes in September, he will introduce legislation that would create a system of public funding for election campaigns so that the focus of such campaigns can return to issues and policies rather than the distortions that result from competition for special interest dollars.
Just one family, the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, plan to invest some of their fossil-fuel fortune and, along with other wealthy donors, bankroll a $900 million political operation this election cycle. That’s more than either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party will each spend on the 2016 campaigns, Sanders noted.
Since Koch money has bought and paid for much of our sitting Congress, the measure is unlikely to pass this time; but sooner or later, American voters will throw off the yoke of corporate agenda control and demand meaningful change with no little urgency.
We’d better hope it will be sooner because the longer it is postponed the more dreadful the potential consequences for civil society.
The argument has to be made that public funding of elections will more than pay for itself in taxpayer savings, when elections become uncoupled from boondoggle projects and subsidies for things like the sugar and corn industries.
Economy driving innovation will soar when legislators shake off the grip of the powerful fossil fuel lobby and end preferential treatment of the nuclear energy industry.
With such an unencumbered Congress, infrastructure projects that will benefit the entire country and employ millions will replace the few projects that currently get funded (even over-funded) only because special interests are pulling the strings.
It’s got to happen before very long if this nation is going to survive well into the twenty-first century without being torn apart by the powerful pull of grave social inequities.
Revolution is only glorious in hindsight when the flag wavers and reenactors get hold of it.
I understand that it is far less pleasant to live through.