Did you know there is actually a Senator whose name is Whitehouse? Yes, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. I was lucky enough to hear him speak for the ten minutes I put into watching the Supreme Court nomination hearings for Judge Kavanaugh. He is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and spoke powerfully on how money buys the Supreme Court. I will share some of it with you.
Before I do, I want to share two quotes that are perfect background, from a book I happen to be reading by Michael Beschloss -- Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America: 1789 -- 1989:
1. "Since the 1870s, big business had owned the Republican Party. As Teddy Roosevelt wrote: With their 'enormous sums of money,' tycoons and their agents had controlled 'a portion of the public press ... men in public life ... men in the pulpit, and most melancholy of all ... a few men on the bench.'" -- P.135
Hmm: Enormous sums of money controlling a few men on the bench - judges?
2. Speaking about FDR's election over Republican Wendell Willkie in 1940: "Lurking behind Willkie were Nazi agents slipping money to Senators and others who wanted him to push Winston Churchill into a quick peace with Hitler." -- P. 157
Hmm: Agents from a foreign power using money to influence American policy?
I am not saying that the Republicans are the only party doing this. The nature of the two-party system is itself corrupting, and both parties participate. But Republicans seem to be the historical leaders in the process. This brings us to what Senator Whitehouse had to say. Here is my brief summary: Money buys elections, which buys positions on the Supreme Court, which makes decisions that give further power to the money-providers that got them onto the bench. That applies to both parties, in my thinking, but currently Republicans have bought the Roberts Five, who vote consistently together in order to please their big donors. Below are some of the major points the Senator makes are:
- All five Republican appointees -- the Roberts Five -- have met on cases 80 times, without Democrats, since Roberts became chief. 73 of those times were important to the big funders and influencers of the Republican Party.
- In those 73 cases, the big Republican interest won -- every time.
- What do big Republican interests want? First, they want to win elections. To enable that, the Roberts Five decisions have delivered:
- A license for Republicans to gerrymander elections.
- Helping Republicans keep minority voters away from the polls, despite one case where the trial judge found the Texas legislature actually intended to suppress minority voters.
- The big one: Helping corporate front-group money flood elections, especially the infamous Citizens United decision.
- Protecting corporations from group "class-action" lawsuits, even by workers, protecting corporations from being taken to court by employees harmed through pay discrimination, insulating corporations from liability for international human-rights violations, helping big business bust unions, allowing corporations to pollute, and others.
Sen. Whitehouse makes other points as well, including how "dark money" works. You can find his speech at https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/opening%20-%20whitehouse.pdf.
Concerning dark money, on August 15 Senator Whitehouse contacted a trio of secretive conservative groups - the Heritage Foundation, the Judicial Crisis Network, and the Federalist Society - for information on who is backing their multi-million-dollar campaign to select and confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He raised a number of questions about their fundraising practices and anonymous donors, including whether they have received large donations from organizations designed to launder the identities of wealthy ideologues, like the Wellspring Committee and Donors Trust.
For Republican readers whom I have not yet lost, thank you for sticking with this. To Democrat readers, your party is not innocent of doing things for the sake of money, for the sake of getting elected, for the sake of getting the party program passed. Having to do these is endemic to our two-party system itself.
Seriously now, could Senator Whitehouse get elected to the White House? Yes, but not as a Democrat, not as a Republican, not as a third-party candidate. Senator, create a Purple -- not party, but -- Movement. It will be very simple -- choose the 31 most serious things that make our government non-functional and/or corrupt, and label changing them as the Purple Movement. Any Democrat, Republican or Independent can join -- maybe send in five bucks -- and that entitles them to openly debate what the 31 items are, and what is the simplest and best solution - amending the Constitution if necessary. Then, in 2020, Senator Whitehouse, you can run solely on that platform. Those who love their country more than their party will vote for you. Are you ready, Senator? So many of your memorabilia will already have your name on them!