The corrupt influence of money in the American political system

“I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I’ve made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.”—U.S. President Barack Obama, Sunday, March 5, 2012, speech to the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)

“There are about 50 countries in the world that have the capability to produce a nuclear weapon if they chose to do so, making Iran far from unique but for its persistence as a thorn in the side of Israel and Israel’s powerful lobby in the United States.”—Philip Giraldi, Council for the National Interest

“The truth is there are very few members [of the U.S. Congress] who I could even name or could think of who didn’t at some level participate in that [system of bribery and corruption in Washington D.C.].”—Jack Abramoff, professional lobbyist and onetime power broker for the elite of Washington, D.C. (during a CBS’s 60 Minutes interview, Sunday November 6, 2011)

“I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections. But as long as it’s doable, I’m going to do it.”—Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate who has donated $11 million to Newt Gringrich’s super PAC, Winning Our Future, suggesting that he might give as much as $100 million to support the GOP presidential candidate

The 2012 U.S. presidential election is the first one to be held under the new electoral financing rule decreed by a majority of five on the Roberts Supreme Court on January 21, 2010. With this fateful decision, the Roberts Supreme Court really changed the meaning of the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution that says, “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union . . .” and decided on its own to change it for “We, the rich corporations of America . . .”

Under the new Supreme Court rule, indeed, any legal entity can spend as much money as it likes to control propaganda channels in order to influence and even dictate the election of the U.S. president and of the members of Congress. That’s legalized corruption. Sooner or later, this nonsensical decision will be over-ruled, but not before it may have caused irreparable damage to the U.S. political system by violating two basic democratic principles, i.e., the equality of citizens and the principle of one citizen-one vote.

There is no other democratic country where the dictum of French economist Frederic Bastiat (1801–1850), applies more concretely: “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

From now on, Americans will not have the most competent and the most dedicated politicians, but the best political hacks that money can buy. Where are the men and women of value and of independent mind who would want to run for office in such a corrupt system?

People are not fooled. They know that the quality of candidates to public office is very low and declining. Recent polls, for example, indicate that even among Republican voters, a majority—58%—say they want more candidate choices, and a whopping 46% have outright negative opinions about the current field of Republican presidential candidates: devout Mormon, former missionary, and vulture capitalist Mitt Romney; extremist papal Catholic Rick Santorum who wants to ban contraception methods and who thinks that having a university education in this day and age is to be a snob; twice divorced Newt Gingrich, a former House Speaker ordered in the past to pay $300,000 for ethics violations and a dreamer who wants to send 13,000 people to live on the moon; and finally Texas Congressman Ron Paul, a libertarian who would abolish Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for the elderly if he could, all modern programs that have lifted American retirees from poverty. And there you have it.

As of now, with the uncontrolled flow of money coming from corporations, casino owners and banks, and more specifically from defense lobbyists, from pro-Israel lobbyists and Israel Firsters, from bankers’ lobbyists, from oil lobbyists, and about 40,000 other registered paid lobbyists in Washington D.C., narrow special interests have free rein to use the resources of the state as if they were their own and to threaten any individual candidate or officeholder who dares to oppose them.

Keep in mind that the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, the most powerful single political lobby in Washington D. C., was the main driving force behind the 2003 military invasion of Iraq by the Bush-Cheney administration, an illegal war of aggression based on lies and false premises.

Indeed, in such a system, the party and the candidates with the most money can be expected to prevail and place their pawns and yes-men in position of power. This is a throwback to the corrupt “Robber Barons” era when a handful of rich capitalists formed a greedy political ruling oligarchy. Undoubtedly, there will be exceptions, but money and propaganda are bound to dominate American elections in the future.

It is not the first time that the U.S. Supreme Court has intervened massively in the American political process. As recently as December 9, 2000, by a five to four vote, the U.S. Supreme Court de facto elected Republican candidate George W. Bush President of the United States, by canceling the recounting of legally cast votes in the state of Florida. Nationally, Democratic candidate Al Gore had received roughly 500,000 more votes than his adversary.

The current Republican presidential campaign has also demonstrated what can be expected in the future under the new rule. The more money a candidate can raise, often from anonymous sources, the more he can buy time on TV and radio to air negative advertisements, not to advance positive proposals of his own, but to destroy the character and credibility of his opponents.

The leading Republican presidential, candidate Mitt Romney, as of now, is turning out to be the money candidate and he has outspent his competitors on negative campaigning by a wide margin. In his younger years, before becoming a corporate banker-raider, Mitt Romney was a Mormon missionary leader in France (1966–68) and, while a strong advocate of the military draft for others, he received a personal 4-D deferment from the draft, exempting him from going to Vietnam because of his status as a Mormon “minister of religion.”

Unless the Republican convention in Tampa, FL, in August is in a deadlock, Romney, possibly with Santorum as his running mate, will be facing the incumbent Democratic ticket of President Obama and Vice President Biden. Already, President Obama has reluctantly decided to join the money game and has indicated that the political action committees (PACs) who support him will be allowed to accept unlimited donations to boost his re-election campaign, lest he be at a considerable disadvantage versus his well-financed Republican adversaries. Indeed, when there are no rules, the party that follows rules is doomed to defeat.

As a consequence, there is no doubt that the Obama-Biden ticket will have to bend to special interests to obtain money and support from wealthy donors. If re-elected, their administration will have its hands tied to special interests policies that will be forced upon them. Where are the common good and the public interest in all that?

Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com. He is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics.

PrintFriendly

Comments are closed.