There’s so much at stake in this election. To say it’s the most important in our lifetime is not an understatement. There’s simply no adjective worthy enough to categorize what we’re facing on November 3, 2020. Life and death? Sure, that works. Look no further than Michelle Obama’s rallying cry from her speech at the Democratic Convention a few months ago: “Vote like your life depends on it.”
And it appears that voters in the United States of American are adhering to the former First Lady’s plea – in record numbers. We’re seeing people making their voices heard, loud and clear. That many are facing wait times in upwards of 10 hours, as was the case in Georgia a few days ago, underscores why we cannot take anything for granted anymore.
These voters are waiting in line because the people conducting the elections didn’t think you’d care enough to show up. They don’t believe you have the intestinal fortitude to wait for hours so that you can make your voice heard. If they put enough roadblocks in place, indeed staying home is the better option.
Or so they thought.
It’s inspiring to see this outpouring of civic engagement. But seeing the long lines also reminds us of the insidious nature of what’s going on. The lengths to which the Republican Party and their leader Donald Trump are willing to keep you from exercising you’re Constitutional right to vote are breathtaking in scope.
But it goes further than one political party or even one corrupt president. At its core, voter suppression is but one part of a scheme orchestrated by mega-wealthy individuals and corporate elites. Yes, the one percent crowd has an agenda. And that agenda doesn’t cater to us regular folk.
It’s about what’s in it for them. How can the millionaires and billionaires become even richer than they already are? How can they force their religious and often bigoted views on everyone else, even though most people disagree?
If these elitists want to dump more toxins in rivers and streams to help their bottom line? So be it. If they don’t like the idea of women having the right to control their bodies, even though most Americans agree they do, who cares? They’ve got two things that most of us do not have: money and power – and they’re willing to use both to upend our democracy to suit their needs.
We see this playing out in real-time with the nomination battle going on for the open Supreme Court seat, left vacant with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This past Tuesday, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) gave another clinic on what’s really going on with the Supreme Court and why Republicans are bending over backward to make sure Amy Coney Barrett is quickly confirmed before this years election.
It’s not the first time Whitehouse has weighed in on this issue. I did a post in 2018 highlighting one of his presentations to the Senate, which unveiled the real origins of how and why Republicans are reshaping the courts and who it is that’s pulling the puppet strings to make it all happen.
The basic gist of the scheme is this: outside non-profits, special interests, and advocacy groups like the Koch network, the Federalist Society, the Judicial Crisis Network, and the Pacific Legal Foundation are coordinating and spending millions of dollars making sure that Barrett and other far-right corporate justices are confirmed to lifetime seats on the judiciary.
According to the Washington Post, between 2014 and 217 alone, these groups collected more than $250 million in such donations, including, as Whitehouse pointed out, two single $17 million checks to back Trump Supreme Court picks Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Whitehouse correctly asserted that you’d be a fool to think they do not want something in return when people donate this kind of money. And the five Republican-appointed Supreme Court Justices have been delivering the goods overwhelmingly in the recent history.
According to Whitehouse, since John Roberts joined the Court as Chief Justice under George W. Bush, 80 out of 80 cases were decided by a 5 to 4 conservative majority, where there’s been an identifiable Republican donor interest. Not only that, but these cases also seem to fall into four categories over and over again:
*Unlimited dark money in politics, which benefits only a select few who have these kinds of resources. Time and again, the unlimited money side wins; efforts to constrain this spending loses.
*Demean and knock down the civil jury process. I’m not sure, but I think Whitehouse means the corporate world’s advocacy for forced arbitration in an employee vs. employee dispute. They’d much rather keep arguments in-house. Civil juries have to follow the law and are not beholden to corporate interests.
*Weaken the regulatory agencies. If you’re a big polluter like the Koch’s and others, you want a weakened regulatory agency, not a strong one that enforces environmental rules and directives.
*Voting rights. We see this happening over and over. The Court gutted the Voting Rights Act and refused to weigh in on gerrymandering. Again, they don’t want all of us to vote. It’s about political power for big special interests.
So, my friends, I ask you this one simple question: Is this the kind of America you want? One beholden to only those at the top who have narrow-minded profit-driven motives? I can almost understand those who are one-issue voters – getting rid of Roe V Wade, for example. Maybe those particular voters like the idea of someone cutting checks for millions to advance their cause.
But for the rest of us, no thank you. In this election, the current president is conspicuously absent on campaign finance reform or dark money politics. He’s clueless, as his only goal is winning reelection by any means necessary – including blowing up our democracy.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, has a plan to clean things up in Washington. And it’s comprehensive. You can read more about it here. But here are the main components:
*Introduce a constitutional amendment to eliminate private dollars from our federal elections entirely.
*Enact legislation to provide voluntary matching public funds for federal candidates receiving small-dollar donations.
*Keep foreign money out of our elections.
*Increase transparency of election spending.
*End dark money groups.
*Require real-time disclosure.
*Ban corporate PAC contributions to candidates, and prohibit lobbyist contributions to those who they lobby.
*Reform funding for national party conventions.
*Close the federal contractor loophole.
Can you imagine the United States of America if we were to enact even a few of these reforms? Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew these big money dark groups did not influence our elected officials and our judiciary? You never know, but we might get the country we all deserve – not the country the elites and wealthy want for themselves.
I’m under no illusion that electing Joe Biden will be a panacea for all that ails America. However, I know that selecting the other guy will give the powerful even more power and make the wealthy even wealthier.
If Biden becomes the next president, we need to make sure he adheres to his promises of making the government work for the people. That’s going to be our job. We need to push him to be better and do better for us – all of us. He has a chance, a real possibility, to be a transformative president. Yes, an FDR, or and LBJ, in terms of shaping how the government isn’t seen as an enemy of the people – but as a partner.
As Joe Biden has said, “Our Constitution doesn’t begin with the phrase, “We the Democrats” or “We the Republicans.” And it certainly doesn’t begin with the phrase, “We the Donors.”
It’s “We the people.”
Let’s give him the chance to prove it.