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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 25, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 08
Moneypolitics
Section One
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Moneypolitics

by Ken Gordon - Former majority leader of the Colorado Senate Moneypolitics: Noun. A political system created in the United States by the Supreme Court circa 2010, whereby wealth has nearly the entirety of the political power. The system is characterized by large numbers of television ads which mislead the people into believing that the candidates who are best for wealthy interests are actually best for the people. This political system only survives as long as the people are distracted, uninformed and inactive.

Before Einstein's Theory of Relativity, people knew that space and time were two separate things. It turns out that they are not separate, but inextricably connected. You can't have time without space and matter. Now scientists talk about 'spacetime.' (Don't ask me to explain this in any more detail.)

Similarly, there was once a time when people thought money and politics were two separate things. It turns out that our Supreme Court doesn't believe in the separation of money and politics, and until we either amend the Constitution or replace the Court, we should no longer talk about politics, or elections or democracy. It should always be moneypolitics, moneyelections, or moneydemocracy.

The reason this comes up is that we just observed the one-year anniversary of Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission.

That was the decision that said that non-human entities, such as corporations and unions, have what we had previously thought were exclusively human rights. In that case, the right to spend unlimited amounts of money persuading the electorate that the candidate who is best for their selfish, private interest is actually the best for the general welfare.

I have successfully run for office seven times and I have never accepted contributions from special interest political action committees. It has always been clear to me that it is wrong to finance campaigns by contributions from groups buying influence over the political process.

Our concept of democracy - demonstrated in founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence ('We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal'), the Gettysburg address ('dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal'), and the Constitution ('no person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws') - carries with it a commitment to political equality.

Our economic system allows for vast disparities in wealth. In order to insulate the equality necessary for our political system to respect individual human dignity and democracy there has to be a barrier between wealth inequality and political equality. The U.S. Supreme Court has destroyed that barrier.

The Court - I will actually name the justices who made up the majority because their names should live in infamy: Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Kennedy - has said there can be no effective money rules in politics.

They have made it extremely difficult to protect average people - difficult, but not impossible.

What then can actual citizens do to reclaim political power and invigorate our founding concept of democracy? This is what I propose.

We need to create an organization to support candidates who agree to three things.

1. To fund their campaigns from individual contributions. Not special interests.

2. To run honest and respectful campaigns.

3. To denounce third parties who do dishonest and disrespectful activities on the candidate's behalf.

If we support these candidates with individual contributions, volunteers, and internet communication, we will begin real political change. We can make it a political advantage to do the right thing.

People respond to candidates who want to represent them and not big contributors. I have seen it in my own career. This is idealistic and pragmatic at the same time.

We are on the verge of a tipping point. The dots are closer than they have ever been before. All we need to do now is connect them. The American people rightfully believe that organized, wealthy special interests have captured our government. That knowledge can motivate action. We can create an organization to do just that, and in the coming weeks, months, and years, I will be asking for your help. The power of committed citizens can overwhelm the power of big money.

Soon we will volunteer for, contribute to, and vote for candidates who agree to these principles. For now, help me think of a name for this new organization. The name may contain within it the concepts of democracy, action, justice, equality, and people. Or something else that you think of that I did not. Someday, you will be able to say that you were at the creation of &.

When you think about it, we actually don't have a choice. We have to do this.

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