America is wounded. It’s bruised and battered. A gaping hole so wide, all the gauze and stitches in the world cannot fill it. It began years ago but has multiplied in magnificent proportions since the election of the current president of the United States. This is not a tutorial of all the malfeasance and corruption perpetrated by this president. Other posts, many posts for that matter are needed to detail that carnage. Instead, we must find a way to fix the country, heal the wound, and move forward.
The first and most important matter is finding a democratic candidate that can and will beat Donald Trump. Yes, he’s still in the White House and we must assume he will still be there when 2020 rolls around. It’s a distressing thought to be sure but to think otherwise would be a huge mistake. Even if Robert Mueller changes that equation, there will still be an election in 2020 and a strong candidate must emerge. In order for that to happen, the Democrats need to sharpen their message. And they will need a candidate willing to go toe to toe with a habitual liar who to be fair, has an uncanny ability to define whoever will run against him: think “Crooked Hillary”, “Low Energy Jeb”, or “Little Marco”.
But whomever that candidate is, if he or she doesn’t have a coherent message that resonates with every day Americans, Trump (gulp!) will win again. We need a Democrat that can communicate ideas simply, but also forcefully. Find a few important issues, explain them well, and define Donald Trump before he defines the candidate.
One issue that should resonate with a large majority of Americans, but hasn’t in recent elections, is money in politics. Trump of course danced around the issue. But he convinced many voters that since he was self financing most of his campaign he wasn’t beholden to large corporations and other wealthy donors. We know this was total and complete nonsense. Money, big money flowed into the 2016 election by the millions. That large gaping wound? The one that keeps oozing blood from the gut of our American democracy? It’s the money damn it, and we need a candidate with a clear plan on how to fix this.
While small donations have risen dramatically in recent years, there’s no denying the outsized influence corporations and the wealthy have on our elected representatives. The American people understand this. They see the lobbying. They see the millions spent in contributions (bribes?) Yet nothing changes. A candidate willing to confront this power and influence should and will galvanize the public. A recent poll conducted by The Daily Beast reveals an overwhelming majority of people want this dealt with. This includes an almost equal amount of voters from both sides of the isle. Democrats will rue the day if they don’t claim this issue as their own.
It won’t be easy. After all, the horrendous Citizens United decision in 2010 blew a hole in the vault. Money can now flow almost unimpeded into campaign advertising with little or no oversight. The rules of the game have changed and the only hope we have is for a Democratic candidate to seize this issue and run with it. We know that Congressional Republicans have no desire to change things. They control all branches of government and the status quo suits them just fine.
The fact is, the whole system needs changed. It’s a complex web of laws and rules that would confuse the most learned among us. We need a strong candidate with excellent communication skills who can level with the American people, explain the issue with ease, and offer solutions. Every campaign rally. Every town hall. Every interview. Only by pounding it over and over can the issue ever have a chance of resonating. Look no further than how this president used a few issues and a few slogans to solidify his base and convince a fair amount of independent voters to support him. But instead of playing on people’s fears, as Trump did with diabolical precision, a positive message linking big corporate money to how legislation is passed and a solution to fix it will go a long way toward cementing the public’s attention and spur voter participation.
There are ideas out there. Perhaps some sort of public financing of elections is the answer. Perhaps passing tougher disclosure requirements would help. Maybe some combination of both, as well a complete overhaul of how our elections are conducted would suffice. Either way, this can be a winning issue for whomever the Democratic candidate ends up being. Overturning Citizens United is a long shot at best, especially now that Trump will be appointing another conservative to the Supreme Court. So, the Democrats must take the lead here. Offer solutions and link Republicans to the status quo. Let the people know: Democrats want to fix the wound, Republicans want to keep it bleeding. A winning formula indeed.
I was reading a sci-fi novel and I found this interesting quote in it: “money is a symptom of poverty, after all.” (Accelerando – Charles Stross). We don’t usually think of money as the debt maker, but it’s because of money that there is debt. So, when a politician accepts a payoff from a corporate, he’s automatically in debt to that and he’s got to pay back.
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Isn’t that the truth? I’ve heard many of them say they take the contributions because the donor simply believes in what that particular politician stands for. That may be the case for many donors, especially the smaller ones. But you have to be incredibly naive to think the big donors and corporations don’t want something in return. And really, they may give thousands..or even millions…but then you see the de-regulation, tax cuts, and decimating of our public lands for profit and well….it seems to be well worth their efforts. It has to change!!
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