Monday, November 5, 2012

Think this isn't important?

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That's Rachel Maddow describing deliberate attempts by the Republican Party to discourage voting. Just think about that.

Florida governor Rick Scott, along with Republicans in their state legislature, even drove the League of Women Voters out of Florida - deliberately, because they don't want Americans to be registered to vote.

And if you are registered, they're making it as hard as possible to actually cast your ballot. You see, they do better when fewer people vote, especially when they can specifically target Democratic-leaning constituencies.

And note that there's a flip side to this. If Republicans don't want the American people making the decisions, who do they want with the power to make them? From the Sunlight Foundation:
Back in July, Senate Republicans successfully blocked the DISCLOSE Act, which would have required all organizations spending $10,000 or more to reveal their donors. Now we understand why.

Through Nov.1, at least $213.0 million has been spent in the general election by “dark money” groups to influence the 2012 elections. Of that, $172.4 million (81%) has been spent to help Republican candidates, as compared to $35.7 million (19%) to help Democrats. (By “dark money” we mean groups that do not disclose their donors and only are required to disclose their congressional race spending within 60 days of House and Senate elections and their presidential race spending following the national party conventions).

The two graphs below show the breakdown by target (President/House/Senate). [Note: I can't find a way to post the charts from that article, so I'm illustrating this from another source. But I urge you to check the many clear charts on their website.] The first shows the current totals. The second shows them over time, which highlights how Republican dark money groups have picked up the pace in the last several weeks, while Democratic dark money groups have continued at the same pace, lagging further and further behind. ...

These totals surely undercount the true amount of money these dark money groups have spent to influence elections, since they only have to disclose their election-oriented spending within 60 days of an election in House and Senate races, and following the national nominating conventions in the presidential race. Yet, when we looked at what Crossroads GPS was doing earlier in the cycle, we found that as of July 5, they had already announced $83 million in ad buys – more than they’ve reported in the disclosure window we are able to cover here. ...

Ultimately, we will probably never know where this dark money comes from, nor the true spending numbers. All we know is there is a tremendous amount of it -- $213 million (and counting) that has been reported, and more than $1 million (and counting) in 12 Senate and 22 House races. We also know it overwhelmingly (4-to-1) is on behalf of Republicans.

Note that many of these dark money groups won't have to disclose how much money they're spending until long after the election is over. And they'll never have to disclose who bought the election donated all those millions of dollars.

And it's not just stopping the Disclose Act, which failed, according to Wikipedia, on a 59 to 39 vote. (Yes, 59 votes, all from Democrats and Independents, in favor of the bill, with just 39 votes, all Republicans, opposed. But since there's apparently no democracy in the U.S. Senate, a minority party has been able to stop almost all good legislation like this.)

But as I say, there's more to it than that. This is the result of that inane Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, which decided that money is speech and that anonymous money doesn't even give the appearance of political corruption, let alone actually be corrupting.

That terrible decision, like so many others from this far-right Supreme Court, was on a 5 to 4 vote. All five justices supporting the decision were appointed by Republican presidents. All four justices opposed were appointed by Democrats.

After Citizens United, our political process was completely thrown open to the highest bidder (as if the wealthy didn't have enough power even before that). And now, they can buy politicians while remaining completely anonymous - legally!

Oh, it gets worse than that. After Citizens United, corporate CEOs can now spend a corporation's money to buy politicians who'll give those same CEOs tax cuts, and they can do that while keeping it a secret from the corporation's customers and shareholders alike.

Note that a corporation's shareholders are supposed to own the company. I mean, that's the whole idea, right? But ownership does not mean control. And since you can't find out what the CEO is doing with your money anyway, you have absolutely no way to oppose it.

And most likely, you do own shares in corporations. You may not own stock directly, but you might own shares of mutual funds which invest in stock (in your IRA or 401-k, perhaps?), so that's still your money. Well, thanks to the Republican Party, wealthy CEOs can spend your money to support the candidates they prefer, and they can do it all anonymously.

The GOP is trying hard to suppress voting, while, at the same time, doing everything they can to let the wealthy buy their own pet politicians. Think about that. Democrats, by and large, are fighting back (if not as effectively as I'd wish).

Do you really think there's no difference between them? Do you really think it's not important to vote?

If Republicans can pack the Supreme Court any further with right-wing ideologues, this fight against legalized corruption will likely be over. And if they can continue to control state governments, they can keep making it harder and harder for ordinary people to vote.

The GOP plan to stay in power in the 21st Century, and to keep America from moving forward, is to suppress the vote while giving the wealthy a legal way to buy politicians without even needing to use their own money. Ask yourself if that's the America you want to see.


Anonymous said...

Yes, it's important but, the GOPers voter suppression will not be enough as Obama has enough of a lead to compensate. Rachel Maddow ROCKS!

WCG said...

Anonymous, I definitely agree with your last line, and I hope your first is accurate, too.

However, it's not just the presidential race that's important. If Republicans continue to control the states, they'll continue this voter suppression campaign.

Note that we live with the results of previous elections. Supreme Court justices stay in office for decades past the presidential administration which appointed them (and the Senate which confirmed it).

And to some extent, that's the case in state government, too - with redistricting, for example. The longer Republicans control state governments, not to mention Congress, the longer they'll have to change things their way. And those things may be very difficult to change back again.

I don't want to be a downer, but all elections are important, right down to the local level. And there's no guarantee about the presidential election, either. If I were superstitious, I'd still be keeping my fingers crossed. :)