Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Is the system rigged?

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When this video clip begins, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart have just killed 'Ham Rove.' Yeah, you had to be there.

Anyway, do you still think the system isn't rigged? You might have to report every detail to the IRS, but Super-PACs can move big money around secretly and anonymously. Colbert's "new, secret, nameless [501]c4" will send just a postcard to the IRS, a postcard with no numbers on it!

You couldn't design a better system to encourage corruption - especially political corruption - if you tried. We're not just selling our nation to the rich, we're doing it in the shadows. You can't even find out about this when it's your money.

And often, it is. If you own any stock or mutual funds, say in an IRA or 401(k) retirement plan, the wealthy people who run our corporations can buy politicians with your money, while keeping it a complete secret from you and your fellow shareholders, not to mention the corporation's customers. (Thank-you, Republicans on the Supreme Court!)

And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Do you wonder why Mitt Romney never released his tax returns? Do you wonder why we never heard the details about those offshore accounts, his money hidden away in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands? There's a vast amount of money hidden from sight, and deliberately so.

Is the system rigged? Well, yes and no. It's rigged, but not entirely successfully, not yet. Note the massive amount of money which went overwhelmingly to Republican candidates in this election - an election they lost big-time.

Karl Rove's American Crossroads Super-PAC, just one of the Super-PACs he runs, spent more than $100 million (almost three-quarters of it from anonymous donors) on this election, but only 1.29% went to winning candidates. Nice rate of return, huh?

My point is that we can still take our democracy back from the oligarchs. No matter how much money these people spend on negative campaign ads, they still have to persuade us to vote their way. We can be smarter than that. By and large, we were smarter than that,... this time.

But yes, it takes a lot of money to run a political campaign in America these days. (Do you wonder why you were getting a dozen emails a day from the Obama campaign, all begging for money?) And when one billionaire can donate hundreds of millions of dollars - expecting a nice rate of return, as he'd get his taxes cut even more than that - it's hard to compete.

But we can compete, because we can vote. So far, at least, corporations can't vote. And the wealthy still have only one vote apiece (though I'm sure that really pisses them off.)

Now sure, politicians from both political parties are too subservient to the wealthy. Well, that's where the money is. And, as I say, it takes a lot of money to run for office. Politicians start fund-raising for their re-election pretty much the day after they win the last one.

Of course, we don't have to have a system like this, but it's the one we've got now. And we're not going to change it overnight. It's going to be a long, hard slog, a matter of incremental steps forward. Frequently, I'm sure, we'll be almost as disgusted with the Democrats as we're angry at the Republicans. Welcome to the real world.

But it's a war which must be fought. And it's a war we can win, we really can. We won this particular battle, and that means we can continue the fight. The system is rigged, but that doesn't mean we should give up. It just means it's going to be a tough fight.

But we already knew that, didn't we?

PS. Stephen Colbert sent out the following email last night:
I write this letter with a heavy heart and elevated cholesterol. Earlier today, our advisor and chief strategist, Ham Rove, passed away. Authorities believe he repeatedly tripped and fell onto a knife several dozen times. Later some dogs ate him. It was all quite tragic.

When it comes to describing how important Ham Rove was to Colbert Super PAC, I find myself at a loss for unsubpoenaed words. Ham Rove did everything for this organization, particularly any of the things that an angry donor or federal official might want answers to.

Due to Ham Rove's timely passing, I am announcing that Colbert Super PAC is shutting down effective immediately. During this time of mourning, we ask that you respect our privacy, and more importantly, the privacy of our money. It wishes to stay out of the public eye, so please don't go trying to find it. Rest assured, you won't. We have a really good lawyer.

I am a man of faith. I believe that Ham Rove in a better place now... and so is the money. I hope you have faith as well, because that's all you're ever going to know for sure.



Jeff said...

How about some Bill Maher:


WCG said...

That was funny, Jeff. Thanks.