Thursday, December 22, 2011 Be Skeptical, be Very Skeptical.

With the Citizens United ruling of 2010,  which corporations are funding elections right now will be next to impossible to know, but it isn't as hard to figure out as it seems. Since we know that old dogs aren't doing anything new, and our current political offerings are guys who have been around Congress and state legislatures for eons; finding out which corporations put them into office in the first place will take a little work, but won't be the impossible task that Citizens United intended.

Prior to 2010, Federal Election laws required everyone who ran for office to report what monies they got and where that money came from. It was intended that the public have access to this info, so it is available for elections through 2009 from the Federal Election Commission.  So, once you figure out which corporations gave money to your specific elected official prior to 2009, you can presume that those same corporations are doing so now, unless said corporations are out of business, or your specific candidate gives a full accounting and does not take money from superpacs. Corporations can still give directly to a campaign, but the invention of the "Superpac" that can get money from anywhere and not have to say where it came from is what we have to fear the most. Superpacs can donate the money they raise to anything, including to a specific candidate. Once that money has been laundered through the superpac, its original source does not ever have to be revealed, and may really be impossible to find. That is what was intended when the unnamed corporations got together and formed Citizens United. We don't even know which corporations belong to Citizens United, shielding those corporations from possible economic fallout.

This long election cycle has given us plenty of time to see the candidates in action and listen to what they have to say. This has been very revealing. Many of the candidates have shown us in the things they have said what they really believe,  but we  have to be very attentive to these things... and understand the "coding." An example of this is Buddy Roemer, former governor of Louisiana (88-92) and currently running for president as a Republican on an election reform platform. He may be the first of the Americans Elect candidates. On the surface, Mr Roemer looks like a very good alternative to the other candidates out there. It looks like he is being excluded from the Republican debates because of what he is saying about campaign finance, and that may make him appealing to some voters who might otherwise vote for another candidate. Further review, and especially a careful listen to what he said on MSNBC's program "UP! with Chris Hayes,"  about mortgages and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reveal another thing altogether. (12/12/11 show) He has the same view as the rest of the Republicans who want to dismantle them because they believe that "certain people should not be allowed to own homes," that Newt Gingrich also revealed in his tirade about federal policy with Fannie and Freddie "forcing lenders to make loans to people with no history of ever paying anybody anything," as the reason the mortgage market imploded. With the evidence now revealing that 65% of minority borrowers who were otherwise credit worthy enough to obtain conventional financing but were given sub-prime loans because of the bigger commissions, that statement is at the very least suspect, and is more likely, disguised bigotry.

While some folks lament this long election cycle, I do not. The longer these candidates have to show us what they really believe, the more they look like the wolves they are....

The long election cycle can give us time to investigate the purportedly non profit group Americans Elect, which was originally formed as a political group, but changed itsstatus to 501 3(c)4  group AFTER chairman Ackerman “donated” 1.5 million. This group has proposed an on line nomination process and trying to get that candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.

There is criticism of the group and its processes,  but especially the failure to disclose its donors:

However, Fred Wertheimer, known for his work on campaign finance reform, said, "They must be trying to hide from the public who their donors are. This is a very strange way for a group to act that is complaining about the state of American politics". (from Wikipedia) I might not go that far, but I will say that any political group, candidate, or group of candidates wishing to stand out or distinguish themselves from others cannot continue the practices of previous candidates or parties, cannot hide behind the Citizens United decision, and cannot fail to disclose where their money is coming from. Americans Elect must show that their way of doing political business is not just "more of the same old #$%^," but is, in fact, a new way of doing political business in this country.

Americans Elect has succeeded in getting on the ballot in 13 states so far and is looking to find candidates to place on the ballot as Americans Elect candidates, not just at the presidential level, but at the state and local levels too. Just because that person (or those persons) are associated with Americans Elect does not mean we should not scrutinize them as we would any other candidate; in fact, I believe we should subject an Americans Elect candidate to an even more stringent microscope, if only to prevent us from being taken in by the "shiny new wrapper."

The Republicans appear to be in big trouble. It looks like there may be a number of candidates who would otherwise be on the Republican ticket but will not because they aren't hard line enough for that small segment of the party known as the "TEA Party." Because of this, we may find a number of those guys on the Americans Elect ticket. If this happens, we need to remember, Americans Elect ticket or not; that candidate is, first and foremost, whatever their party affiliation was before they became part of Americans Elect. Being on the Americans Elect ticket will not change that underlying philosophy. We will need to ask some hard questions or do some investigations to find out which corporations donated to their previous campaigns and demand open accounting of all Americans Elect candidates, to be sure they aren't getting corporate or Superpac money this time, that they are truly free to vote as their constituents want them to.

1 comment:

  1. Very well said, especially about scrutinizing Americans Elect. One of the other negatives about the Citizens United decision is that candidates can now honestly say they have no power over the PACs. Used to be we could put pressure on them to denounce what the PACs were saying for them, now they can honestly say they can't