Friday, August 1, 2014

Get Money Out

Laslo Boyd at Center Maryland wrote a strongly-worded column yesterday slamming (mostly Republican) politicians for their "War on Reason".  He wrapped up his piece with a sentence that has been ringing through my head ever since:

"American politics is not doing a good job of responding to the important challenges facing this nation."

Well doesn't that just sum things up right there.   So simple, but so true.  Regardless of your ideological stripe, or lack thereof, there seems to be no disputing that the disappearance of the middle class, climate change, immigration, crime, poverty, equality of opportunity - you name it, our politics come up short.  And that's for Democrats and Republicans.  Things just aren't getting done.

And let's be frank - a big reason is big money in politics.  You can disagree with me on whether corporations should have unfettered, personal rights to using money as speech, but it is hard to disagree that the end result is bad.  Our elected officials spend more time thinking about how to raise then next thousand than they do "responding to the important challenges facing this nation"; probably by a magnitude of 10 to 1.  They don't socialize anymore, heightening the adversarial posture of the two parties.  Important initiatives are weighed on the ability of stake-holders to donate as opposed to the merit of the proposal.  And, most importantly, your voice is lost; out-purchased and out-spent.  Why listen to an engaged voter now when the unengaged voters can be won over by a million-dollar ad blitz two weeks before the election?

"Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder." - George Washington

Over the last two years, a movement has sprung up to fix that - Get Money Out.  This effort is focused on calling an Article V convention to amend the Constitution, overrule Citizens United, and allow for reasonable campaign finance reform.  Two states (California and Vermont) have already passed resolutions calling for a convention and many more have had resolutions near passage across the Country (including Maryland).

Despite the admittedly drastic nature of such a move, there is overwhelming cross-partisan support for such a measure amongst the electorate.  This poll (PDF) showed that 75% of Democrats, 64% of Independents, and 54% of Republicans identified big money spending in politics as a serious problem that is poisoning our government's ability to lead on important issues.

This is a big problem.  It will take big action to solve.  But that's why we're here, right?  Think big.

Have a great Friday doing what you love.  It's impossible not to.