Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
After all the words written and spoken about “Wall Street” and the “1%,” and the ties between those at the top with DC Insiders, the 2012 campaign season clearly shows that the power of that relationship remains intact. That’s not a surprise. The expectations of those fighting that relationship, before and since the Occupy / 99% movement, are generally realistic – this is a “long haul” process. It’s crucial that attention and pressure are maintained. One way that’s happening now is by a focus on Citizen’s United, and SuperPACs.
For example, Nancy Pelosi on The Colbert Report, via Business Insider
The topic of discussion: SuperPACs. Colbert (in character) loves them. Pelosi hates them. …
‘Well I think that if we want to cancel elections and just have the wealthiest people in America … tens of millions of dollars we can just ask them, who do they want to be president? …’
‘That would be polite,’ Colbert quipped.
‘No, that would be a plutocracy … .’
An Al Jazeera piece asks “Wall Street in the White House?”, and reports that Wall Street has given more than twice as much to Romney’s official campaign than to Obama’s.
The article includes these quotes:
‘There may be an issue with regard to the Super PACs and transparency is a big issue. But money in America, at least in terms of campaign contributions, is seen as free speech. So it is up to the voter to do a little more research but it is quite obvious where the money is coming from. … Wall Street does play both sides, and the American voter knows that.’ – Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist …
‘We are seeing a degradation of the political process. It used to be a joke that we have the best democracy or government money can buy. But it is no longer a joke, no longer said with humour but with bitterness by growing numbers of Americans. This is dividing the country politically, ideologically and ethically.’ – Richard Wolff, an emeritus economics professor, University of Massachusetts …
And then there’s this from Amy Goodman, via Common Dreams:
How Far Can Russ Feingold Push Campaign Finance Reform?
Let’s hope the former Democratic senator’s new job as Obama campaign co-chair means Super Pacs’ days are numbered …
(Feingold says) ‘The president is wrong to embrace the corrupt corporate politics of Citizens United through the use of Super Pacs – organizations that raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations and the richest individuals, sometimes in total secrecy. It’s not just bad policy; it’s also dumb strategy.’
And, he says, it’s ‘dancing with the devil’. …
Goodman reminds us of our history.
In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt said to Congress: ‘All contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law.’ He signed a bill into law banning such contributions in 1907. In 2012, this 100-year history of campaign-finance controls died, thanks to five US supreme court justices who decided, in the 2010 Citizens United case, that corporations can use their money to express free speech, most notably in their efforts to influence federal elections.
There’s a reason the OWS movement, among other groups and organizations, includes repeal of Citizens United as important to breaking out of the Wall Street / 1% stranglehold.
Back to Feingold, who
opposed Obama’s Wall Street reform bill, saying it was too weak, and supported the state attorneys general, like New York’s Eric Schneiderman and another of the new campaign co-chairs, California’s Kamala Harris, who, at first, opposed the proposed settlement with the five largest banks over allegations of mortgage-service fraud and ‘robo-signing’. Feingold’s reaction to the $25bn settlement that the White House pushed through?
‘We were among the few that refused to do a little dance after this announcement … whenever it ends up being Wall Street, somehow there’s always a clunker in there.’
As I interviewed Feingold, just hours after he was named one of the 35 Obama campaign co-chairs, I asked him if he was an odd choice for the position.
Feingold listed a number of reasons his position makes sense, including Obama’s “bringing us healthcare for the first time in 70 years?”, having “actually done a good thing with the economy,” the “stimulus package,” and “job growth,” and a “president that has the best reputation overseas of any president in memory.”
‘Believe me, on balance, there’s no question.
Which, within the lesser of two evils framing, makes the same kind of sense it always does. No more, no less. And no change from the 1% skewed status quo, electoral politics as usual.
‘And finally, how about a co-chair of a president who I believe will help us appoint justices who will overturn Citizens United?’
I hope he knows something we non-Insiders don’t. I think, though, this is just a continuation of the “you have no choice” because the Republican evil is more evil than the Democratic evil, the evil you know. And the evil who knows you, and counts on you not changing, either.
Immediately following Feingold’s statement about Obama’s appointing judges who will overturn Citizens United, Goodman concludes:
Until then, as the Obama campaign ‘dances with the devil’ of Super Pacs, perhaps campaign co-chair Russ Feingold will help us follow the money.
Perhaps. But there also seems to be some dancing with the devil that you know going on there, too.
(Break Money Chains poster via Overland )