On Tuesday, Heritage Action, the even more political arm of the Heritage Foundation, sent a memo to Republican Congressmen telling them to vote against the bipartisan Senate bill that would re-open our government. As a none-too-subtle threat, the memo noted that the organization would be “scoring” Congressional votes.
In other words, do as we say or we will make sure you have a difficult, and expensive, primary fight!
This is really nothing new. Well-financed ideological groups have controlled our Congress for decades. The four-million-member NRA has long scored votes at the state and national level regarding gun safety and other issues of interest. The US Chamber of Commerce has spent billions to elect officials who are friendly to large corporations. The American Medical Association, Big Pharma and the Insurance Institute of America have spent billions to protect their out-of-control profits in health care. Large corporations peddle influence through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Even churches keep score, picking and choosing winners in elections.
What is new is the sheer amount of money and power now exerted by outside interests. Following the Supreme Court decision that equates money with free speech and the decision to equate corporations with people, the amount of money in politics has increased dramatically. In 1998, it’s estimated that $1.6 billion was spent on US elections. In 2012, that number exceeded $6.2 billion! And the Supreme Court is currently hearing a case that could further open the floodgates.
There are now dozens of highly-partisan “think tanks,” PACs, SuperPACs and lobbying groups that hold out the carrot of campaign financing and brandish a whip for any legislators who get out of line.
If an elected official wants to retain some semblance of independence from the big-money interests, he or she has to constantly beg constituents for money. Is it any wonder, then, that within a month of the 2012 election results, candidates were campaigning to raise funds for their re-election?
Most Americans can see the problem, but they continue to hold their noses and vote for candidates who are more interested in their re-election than the interests of our nation. There is only one way to stop it…stop it! Stop voting for candidates who put corporations ahead of people. Stop voting for candidates who put the interests of their party ahead of the interests of our nation.
Just stop it!