The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Good news! There ARE clean elections!

with one comment

Swim Against the CurrentA blog friend of mine from Europe wrote recently about her amazement at the role money plays in US politics. The idea that donors would give big bucks and expect favors in returns was purely astonishing, I guess. Of course to me it’s astonishing that it would be astonishing, having never even imagined any other way.

She tells me that if politicians in her country received donations from corporations or individuals, they would be breaking the law! Imagine it! How different would US politics be if private money weren’t involved! How different would US law be if corporations could not fund campaigns! How different would the slate of candidates be, if one didn’t have to be rich to run! How different would our itch for war be, if munitions-makers and oil brokers didn’t elect candidates! How different campaigns would be, if candidates weren’t begging for money!

Now an even greater surprise. A populist fellow named Jim Hightower recently finished a book called Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go with the Flow. It’s about good things, upward-moving things, that are happening in America. And among them is this amazing story, as reported in an interview with the ever-excellent Amy Goodman:

clipped from www.democracynow.org
AMY GOODMAN: Clean elections?
JIM HIGHTOWER: Oh, this is the most wonderful story in America, I think, and underreported, except on great shows like Democracy Now! People say, oh, well, you can’t get the corrupt money out of politics; they find loopholes around them. Well, you’ve got to tell that to the people of Maine and North Carolina, New Mexico and Arizona, Connecticut and other states and cities that have passed public financing of their elections. And it just has remarkable results.
In Maine, for example, they’ve now had four election cycles with public financing, meaning if you take—if you don’t take private money, you get an equivalent sum of money that makes you competitive from public funds. The result in Maine has been that now 83 percent of their senate, 84 percent of their house, had been elected without taking a dime in corporate money. And it’s totally changed the politics of that state.North Carolina has done it just for their judicial elections, and the result of that—by the way, they had a real fun thing to win it. The Republicans in the legislature had opposed it as a bloc. And one of their strategies of the coalition that was pushing the clean election alternative was to get school teachers to call their former students who were in the legislature and say, “Johnny, don’t make me have to come to Raleigh. Did you learn anything that I taught you?”But one more point, that now in North Carolina, they’ve had two election cycles. Of the six seats up in 2004 on the Supreme Court and Appeals Court down there, five were elected without corporate money. And in the last election, six of the five were elected again, including four women—now have a woman chief justice of the Supreme Court. She says, “Clearly, without public financing, I could not have done it.”
  blog it

Those words: Elected without a dime of corporate money. In the USA! Breath-taking!

Imagine! People getting elected who owe nothing to corporations. People who’ve given their lives to serving others, rather than getting rich. People who work for people.

Yes, I know, some will call it socialism (music from Jaws! here). Never mind that it isn’t, even remotely. That alarmist goofiness is nearing the end of its long, slow death.

Simply put: We make our politicians grovel for money, then act surprised when they behave like people who want money. Looks to me like public funding could be much more true to the spirit of democracy.


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Written by Monte

March 12, 2008 at 9:57 pm

Posted in Politics, Social change

One Response

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  1. This IS good news, Monte. Thanks for sharing it. Maj. is reading an alarming book by Noam Chomsky, *Failed States*, that makes clear how both parties have been corrupted by corporate money (of course BushCo have taken it to audacious extremes). I’d be so happy to see this sort of thing cleaned up in my lifetime. I’d have a lot more hope that the world we’re leaving to our kids would be somewhere I’d want them to raise my grandchildren!

    We’re also watching Sicko (we’re about 2/3 through it), Michael Moore’s movie about the healthcare industry (talk about corrupt corporate money). It prompted Maj. to remove the post he’d made about universal health care; he hasn’t done an ideological about face, but he realized that what he wrote could definitely be used as ammunition by some very bad people.

    honestpoet

    March 13, 2008 at 9:28 pm


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