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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/21/10

Corporate Lobbyists Are Killing Our Democracy

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I often receive emails from conservative friends or family trying to enlighten me about the sorry state of liberal America. The most recent was supposedly written by a law student suggesting that the Left and Right should seek a divorce and then divide the country's land mass as part of the settlement. You know...all the good Christian, SUV driving, gun toting,war loving capitalist types on one side of the continent while the rest of us could have the other.

I am a sixty year old political independent who has voted on both sides of the divide in the many political elections in my lifetime. The reason I have voted for various members of both parties is because I feel neither party or any particular candidate ever fully represents my concerns as a citizen. So, I choose the one I think might make a difference. I am almost always disappointed with whoever is in control of the government. Why is that? Because campaign promises are seldom kept.

A goat herder on a Tibetan mountain or anyone else who is far removed from our culture and politics would not see a gnat's eyelash worth of difference between the two political parties representing our national interests today. What he would notice are several distinctive common threads that bind both parties tightly together in an inseparable bond. One is capitalism and the other is democratic freedom. This is a mixed bag of good and bad, depending on how the two are blended and applied.

There are powerful media propaganda machines on the Left and the Right. They pitch their differences by exaggerating the perceived weaknesses of the other side. Neither side spends much time pitching their own strengths or substantive solutions because apparently they no longer have any. It should once again be painfully clear that both parties have an undying commitment to choose corporate interests over the interests of the citizens who elect them.

I grew sick of Republicans under Reagan and then Bush Sr.'s record deficit spending and then I grew sick of Democrats under Clinton even though our budget was balanced with a surplus. Then I grew sick of Republicans again during the failed presidency of the last Bush who gave away the surplus, took us into a trillion dollar war while lowering taxes on the rich and left us with a record debt as a result. Now I am sick of Democrats under Obama who have piled on another trillion dollars of debt trying to bail out Wall Street and big banks that tanked under Bush. I am sick of them all.

According to the value standards of capitalism (the bottom line), Clinton should be the hands down winner as the greatest President of all time because the American economy grew more during his tenure than in any time in our history. I choke on that, don't you? Well, we should is disgusting when profit or wealth is the main measurement of greatness.

What makes me sick is the way Big Money and corporate interests always supersede the needs and desires of the common citizens. Obviously, it doesn't matter who has the political majority. Governing politicians always follow the will of the largest campaign donors...period. Now, the Supreme Court has recently given corporations and unions unlimited freedom to spend money in promotion of political candidates who will vote for their concerns. This is the single greatest threat to our freedom in America.

You can call it conservative or liberal. You can call it Republican or Democrat. You can call it Left or Right. I call it what it is...unbridled greed taking advantage of a free society with no concern for the common citizen.

The right of citizens to petition the government was established by our founders as an important mechanism to help legislators know the desires of their constituents and then vote accordingly. Reality is...we can gather millions of signatures on a petition and then have it trumped by one signature on a corporate lobbyist check. This is what is killing America and is the greatest threat to our freedom. Big Money lobbyists are greasing the palms of the Left and the Right in Washington and the States as they maintain their control.

Dividing America ideologically or by location on the land mass is not the answer. Let's direct our anger in a constructive way and demand lobby reform that boots the corporate lobbyists out of politics. We must return the value of petition to the process of government. Corporations are not citizens and should not have the collective bargaining power they currently possess.

Conservatives and liberals, to varying degrees, love God, their families and this nation. There are good citizens and virtuous folks voting on both sides while some don't vote at all. They are our neighbors, family and friends. I for one, will never advocate for disowning, ostracizing, demonizing or dividing any of them.

We are all members of humanity, some of us are Christians and God loves everyone. I still believe in "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." I encourage all American citizens regardless of political affiliation or religious persuasion to embrace the spirit of the Pledge of Allegiance. Let's advocate for unity and not division. Let's fight to take back our nation from powerful lobbyists and make America once again a nation that is "of the people, by the people and for the people."
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Gary Vance is an evangelical pastor/writer living in rural Tennessee. He is the author of "Wasn't Jesus a Liberal?" and other published essays.
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