Caricature of corporate "Porky" threatening liberty
On this the 4 th anniversary of the Supreme Court's ignominious ruling in "Citizens United v/s FEC", a decision that all but sanctified legalized bribery of the entire political process in this country, this writer came across a recent New York Times article entitled, "It Only Seems That Political Corruption Is Rampant" [i] , by staff writer Michael Wines.
What was startling in Wines' piece there was no mention of Citizens United and the corrupting effect SCOTUS ruling, (essentially granting corporations the 1 st Amendment protected right to make unlimited expenditures to support or oppose political candidates) has had on the electoral process.
Wines focused on the recent indictment of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on fraud and conspiracy charges along with the 2009 conviction of former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson who had $90,000 in marked bills in his freezer depicting the latter as "headlines" grabbing with "few public failings as colorful" as Jefferson's "political malfeasance" being the type of corruption people see as rampant.
He goes on to cite Larry Sabato, the Director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics who said, "I've studied American political corruption throughout the 19 th and 20 th centuries and if anything, corruption was much more common in much of those centuries than today. What has skyrocketed is the public perception that politicians are corrupt".
But from here let's get past the sordid corruption committed by Jefferson type politico's accepting old fashioned graft and get to the heart of what is the real political corruption in this country.
A few years ago Senator Dick Durbin (D. ILL) being interviewed on a local Chicago radio broadcast led us into the real world of political corruption talking about the financial industries influence in the United States Senate by saying, "And frankly, they own the place".
That off the cuff comment by Durbin, just after the bailout of the big banks and financial meltdown they created with the bursting of the sub-prime mortgage bubble in 2008, essentially let the cat out of the bag indicating where the real corruption lies.
Today's corruption of our politico's is more subtle and sophisticated and made all the more "legal" by SCOTUS ruling in Citizens United that served to unleash a torrent of big money into the political process.
In all but a few instances, a Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren being a few exceptions rejecting big corporate contributions to their campaigns, big money selects who runs for office, underwrites their campaigns, undermines opponents with attack ads and smear tactics all to get their man (woman) elected.
Once elected, help set the political agenda, enact the laws and regulations, oversight and enforcement that serve to benefit the interests of their financial underwriters.
Of course these sycophants always maintain they are not influenced by the primary financial backers of their campaigns, but only the completely naïve would subscribe to such a notion.
So it's not the under the table bribes taken by a few Jefferson type miscreants that is the real political corruption in this country but the legalized bribery of the entire political process now sanctified by SCOTUS in their Citizens United ruling.
Overturning that ruling with an amendment to the Constitution is a current ongoing campaign where some 16 states and hundreds of local municipalities have petitioned the Congress to call for such an amendment. Thus far well over a 100 lawmakers in Congress have signed on to authorize such an amendment.
Getting big money out of the electoral process with an amendment to the constitution may be the last gasp hope of saving this representative democracy.