My good friend over at Filosofa’s Word, Jill Dennison, likes to warn when there’s a rant ahead. So, Jill, I hope you don’t mind, but I feel the need to notify of an impending rant.
Perhaps it’s the non-stop rain here in the Pacific Northwest, or maybe it’s the grey skies. Whatever the case, something got under my skin from the Democratic debate on Thursday night, and today it’s boiling over.
The whole thing started when Senator Elizabeth Warren went after Mayor Pete Buttigieg, bringing up a recent fundraiser he had in Napa Valley wine country at the lavish home of real estate developer Craig Hall and his wife, Kathryn. The property features a wine cave, with bottles selling for hundreds of dollars each. Photos of the event showed a long table decorated lavishly, with a large crystal chandelier hanging overhead.
But my rant isn’t about Warren going after Mayor Pete. Do I wish fellow Democrats would refrain from this kind of attack? Yes, but I understand the world of politics. It happens, and it will continue until the whole process is over in 2020. I get it.
It’s about the money. It’s about the wine cave and crystal chandeliers. It’s about how politicians still need to raise funds in this insidious and unseemly manner. If it doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth, I don’t know what will.
I’m glad Warren said what she said. Not because I don’t like Mayor Pete, or think he wouldn’t be a good president, because that’s just not the case. It’s the whole thing with raising money. It’s feeling the need to grovel to millionaires and billionaires to compete in an election. When are we, the people going to say enough is enough?
Some say we cannot unilaterally disarm when it comes to competing with Republicans for money. If we do, we’re merely ceding the advantage to them. I understand the argument, and it’s a valid one. I’m just sick of it. I apologize for the simplicity, but it’s something I feel very strongly about.
Because the fact is, until we reform our campaign finance laws, we will never get the democracy we so richly deserve. We’ll never get a bill on climate change, sensible gun safety regulations, cheaper prescription drugs, or universal access to health care. We’ll never be able to reform how we pay for higher education or overhaul our aging infrastructure. None of these things happen because our politicians are bought and paid for by special interests.
It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? But all we get is lip service. All we get are declarations to do more if elected. And then, nothing gets done. I do have to commend Warren and Senator Sanders, however. At least they’re trying to send the right message by eschewing high-end fundraisers, relying instead on an extensive grassroots fundraising strategy. That’s the right thing to do. Unfortunately, if either of them wins the nomination, they may also have to do a few wine cave fundraisers. That’s how evil and corrupt our system is. It has to stop.
Mayor Pete needs to do what he thinks is right, I suppose. I just wish it wasn’t this way. I never liked it when Obama did it. He received millions from the financial services sector, and you know what? It looked bad. I realize why he did it, but when the industry got billions in bailout money, I felt he should have done more to hold them to account. I loved Obama, but this is one area where I thought he fell short. Did all those donations make a difference in how he treated the industry? I always wondered. It shouldn’t have to be this way.
Some take a different view. Actress Jane Lynch took issue with Warren’s attack on Mayor Pete with a tweet in which she equates a billionaires contribution with that of a waitress or a plumber. She thinks it’s nothing but class warfare, and we shouldn’t do it. I cannot disagree more. It’s not class warfare; it’s about access and influence.
Is Lynch trying to say that a plumber who gives 50 bucks is the same as a billionaire giving millions to a SuperPac? Can that same plumber ask for a plum ambassadorship appointment? Do you think a candidate would give more access to the plumber, or the big donor? The answer is obvious.
It’s time, way passed the time, to take a stand. I like what Warren and Sanders are doing. It sends the right message, and messaging is everything, isn’t it? Warren, in particular, has several plans that get at the heart of corruption in our politics. I’ve always said that Democrats need to take this issue and run with it.
Look, we know what the Republicans do. The wine cave event is something straight out of their playbook. Crystal chandeliers and golden dining rooms are what we should expect from Trump and his cronies. I didn’t like it when Obama did it, and I don’t like it when Democrats feel the need to go down this road. Something has to change. We’re either the party of the people and the working class, or we’re not.
Somehow the Republicans have bamboozled a particular segment of our population into thinking that they are the party for working people. We know better than that. They’re the party of the corporations and the wealthy, and they’ve been that way for generations. If the Democrats want to gain favor with the working class, they’ll capitalize on what Warren and Sanders are trying to do. Reform our campaign finance laws and make that the center-piece of the campaign. I don’t see how we can lose if done with resolve and determination.
It’s called populism folks. One thing Trump was able to do was speak to those working-class people in ways they didn’t feel Democrats did. Now, of course, he lied to them. Remember how he said he’d never be beholden to the wealthy and corporations?
How has that worked out? So much for him spending all of his own money to get elected. Now, he’s a fundraising machine, hat in hand. Do you want your tax cuts? Done. You want me to get rid of regulations? Done. How about drill baby drill? You bet.
Democrats are better than this. Warren has some good plans. So does Sanders. If Joe Biden is the nominee, I hope to holy hell he takes the issue of campaign finance and bangs Trump over the head with it. People will take notice. And if he wins the presidency, he must follow through with concrete action. That goes to whoever the nominee is, by the way. No more lip service, please.
Ok, now that my blood pressure is back to normal, I’ll just end with a final comment. Reforming our campaign finance laws and anti-corruption will be my most important issues going forward. You’ll see a lot about it in this space. I’m going to say this loud and clear: A corporation is NOT a person, my friends. Sorry, Mitt Romney, you were wrong.
Until we get this right, see you later, democracy—it was nice knowing you.