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Get the Money Out of Politics?

by JOE GIAMBRONE

The system works — for some.  The some include the elite donors who finance the system. Duh.

The long-waged war over outright corruption in the American political system has failed massively. Half-measures like McCain-Feingold were more PR exercises than solutions. They gave a thin veneer of credibility to a rotting, festering disgraceful operation that has never risen above the level of organized crime.

Since the beginning the incentives to conquer a continent, massacre the indigenous and take any and everything at gunpoint were in place. The great experiment included concessions to the rabble who obeyed and saluted and fought and bled for the Manifest Destiny big lie.

The more they paid, the more they played. This was the “American Dream” that actually existed. The moneyed interests had their dreams come true. Not much has changed.

With the new Supreme Court ruling that money equals speech and that corporations can speak their way to new heights in politics, we need to reassess the situation. Fast.

Some groups propose to “reverse” the Citizens’ United vs. FCC decision with a constitutional amendment. I’m not entirely sold on this prospect, as the best that could be hoped for with this strategy is a return to 2008 levels of corruption? More likely the entire project would be hijacked and we’d be no better off than today.

What if I were to suggest that the entire system could be knocked on its ass and interests realigned with a one-paragraph change to the tax code? You’d call me mad, delusional, out of touch, ignorant.

Well just what is it about the electoral system that’s truly wrong, right now?

Those with more money get disproportional influence to install politicians and command their allegiance. Does anyone doubt this is true (excepting the stuffed-shirt apologists of the mainstream corporate lie factories)?

The previous faux solutions were attempts to take money out of politics. These all failed and will always fail.

Speech in the modern political world actually can equate to money. You can put up a free website. You can get up on a soapbox. But, if you want your message out there on millions of screens, on millions of radios, in millions of print spaces, it’s going to take money up front.

While speech is free, a communications medium is a resource. Resources need upkeep. They have competing buyers. They have intrinsic value, being an infrastructure that people watch and listen to. The media are not strictly speaking free, and therefore some financial investment and recuperation is normal and expected.

That’s not to rule out mandating free air time on public airwaves. Certainly anything broadcast on public space like the air should include a public interest requirement. This requirement should be increased, strengthened.

Taking the real media costs of electioneering into account, we still run up against the problem of those with an overabundance of largess deciding to corrupt the system in their own image. Their interests will receive top priority, preferential legislation, blatant skewing of the rules of society away from the many and toward the few.

Unless, that is, the many get to start putting money into the system as well. Ah. The problem is not the money, per se, but the sources of the money, the intent of the purchase, the bias associated with the purchase (of legislators — little better than whores for the purposes of this discussion).

We can correct for this bias with a simple “Election Tax Credit” on your IRS tax return. This credit allotted solely to support political candidates would throw weight onto the citizens’ side of the scale. Money can travel in whichever direction we decide collectively is best for the society.

We’ve all been acquainted with the FEC’s donation limit, currently $2,500 per year per candidate! How many citizens can ever donate at anywhere near that level? One in twenty? Fifty? A hundred? Five hundred?

Instead create a tax credit option for everyone else to input a set amount of money into the election system in the manner they see fit. Grant $100-$500 per year to every citizen to give away to the political challengers, and suddenly the game changes in favor of the many. This would be a sea change, a tsunami the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Okay, maybe not the first year, where people remain apathetic and detached. But shortly thereafter the entire society would be re-assessed and re-envisioned from the ground up.

This is a public financing model that cuts out the bureaucrats and the fat cats, and puts the decision-making back in the hands of the regular people. You get credit in the political system to allocate as you see fit. Entire sectors would rise up around this new financing source.

Third party options suddenly become feasible. This is a straightforward challenge to the two party stranglehold.

The money is not coming out of people’s own pockets directly, but is a form of government subsidized political participation.

When the citizens have a very real active role in deciding which parties and candidates best represent them, a visceral immersion will take place. Rather than opting out and letting the affairs of the nation be decided in back rooms by unknown bribers and unreachable politicos, the citizens will be brought in as sponsors, funders, the deciders of who’s worthy and who’s not.

Still think I’m mad?

Maybe so. But everything else has failed, and is failing ever more spectacularly as I type. This concept at least relies on a democratic model of participation. Give everyone a chunk of political funny money to spend as they see fit, and this will counteract the excesses of the vampire class. It could actually move us beyond the two party oligarchical organized crime syndicate model we suffer under today.

Skeptics will immediately ask: “Where’s the money going to come from, higher taxes?”

That’s a very real possibility: that those with newly decreased political power will pay more taxes. I think we all know who they are, and they may not like this outcome.

As money goes, let’s take a moment to stare into the abyss, the creation of $16 Trillion since 2007 by the Federal Reserve (sic), a private for-profit bank that enjoys some quasi-governmental elevated position over our lives. Has anyone reading this benefited from that greatest heist in recorded history?

If we’re going to use the lack of money issue to challenge the Election Tax Credit proposal let’s see how the current situation has played out, and for whose benefit.

The Fed’s $16 Trillion (and much more to come) offers no hope, no change, no solution, nothing for our society except a new feudalism, selling your grandchildrens’ grandchildren into servitude.

Other skeptics might strike back: “You want the unwashed bovine masses deciding which candidates get more campaign money? We’ll have a bottle of Coke as president, and a bag of Doritos as the vice president.”

But would a bottle of Coke do as much damage to society as the current crop of politicians?

The Election Tax Credit (ETC) option offers a real, pragmatic challenge to the ruling ghoulocracy. It is at least worth a few moment’s consideration. The current model gives an empty-headed zombie nod to “democracy” by allowing the masses to vote on corporate shill A or corporate shill B. Only by making other options viable can we hope to see democracy fulfilled.

Joe Giambrone is a filmmaker and author of Hell of a Deal: A Supernatural Satire. He edits The Political Film Blog. He be reached at: polfilmblog at gmail.

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