One of the keys to convincing people that a change is needed is to learn how destructive and unsustainable the status quo is. If you don’t believe we have a problem, why should we change? If you don’t believe unlimited campaign donations by corporations, unions, billionaires and lobbyists are dangerous, why would you want the Clean Elections Amendment? Over the next several articles, I hope to show you just how ugly and anti-democratic this is, so that you can better understand why we so desperately need to demand passage of the CEA.
One illustration is in the appointment of ambassadors. For decades, presidents of both parties have rewarded their supporters with cushy ambassadorships. In the current administration, 23 bundlers, fundraiser and donors who collectively raised and gave over $16 million to President Obama since 2007 are now ambassadors. This has been routine practice for both Democratic and Republican presidents for many years, but is that who we want representing us? Shouldn’t we expect our ambassadors to be career diplomats and experts in the countries they are posted to?
Sending obviously unqualified and unprepared ambassadors to foreign posts opens us up to ridicule at best and tragedy at worst. One example: in January, George Tsunis, founder and CEO of Chartwell Hotels, was before a Senate confirmation hearing for his appointment as ambassador to Norway. Tsunis is one of the country’s top donors, raising almost $1 million for the Obama campaign. His answers to some rather basic questions about Norway has made him a laughingstock, not only here but in Norway as well. Do we want this person speaking as the voice of America in Norway?
But this is just a small example of the many dangers of unlimited campaign contributions. More insidious is the lack of new regulations for banks and financial institutions in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown. In the early 1930’s after the stock market crash, government passed a series of new laws regulating the financial industry so that such a crash could never again wreck our economy. In the 1990’s many of those safeguards were repealed, notably the Glass-Steagall Act. And sure enough, we went through the deepest recession in the past 80 years. Wouldn’t you expect similar safeguards to be put in place now, to prevent yet another collapse? Why would we not do that, it’s so common sense?
Because of the millions of dollars pumped into campaign coffers by those same financial institutions! It is legalized bribery that prevents us from being able to protect ourselves from a future disaster. Lobbyists for these big financial institutions are actually writing the laws they expect “their” politicians to vote on, to keep regulations at bay and allow them to continue to profit from unregulated transactions! How crazy is that?
Is this the kind of world YOU want to live in? If not, what are YOU willing to do about it?
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