O’, The Irony!


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In my Money, Politics & Democracy presentations I’m careful to avoid any of the demonizing of individuals that is sadly so common in our politics. Instead, I focus on the dysfunctional system that forces good people to compromise themselves. The engine of that is the insanely high cost to run a political campaign, driven primarily by the crazy high cost of television advertising.

Over $10 million was spent in the Illinois 10th Congressional District race of 2012. That was for one House seat for just two years and represents only the money spent by the campaigns. Between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown over $80 million was spent for that Massachusetts Senate seat. In 2012 over $2 billion was spent in the presidential race and over $10 billion was spent in total for all federal elections.

The message in that is that to get elected and stay elected, people have to do fundraising continuously. As much as 50% of politicians’ time in office is spent grubbing for dollars for the next election. Further, small contributions won’t get the job done, so they have to suck up to the big bucks donors. And that leaves them beholden to those big funders.

SuperPACs are funded by already crazy wealthy people and corporations. They spend their money primarily on negative television advertising and, generally speaking, it is pretty effective. The result is that our democracy is held hostage to the big funders of political campaigns and SuperPACs.

The only way to change that and reclaim democracy – rule by [all] the people – is to enact a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that will do two things: first, allow for the regulation of money in our politics; second, make it clear that corporations are not people, nor should they necessarily have all of the rights of people and that the rights of corporations may be outlined and limited by government. The only way that amendment will get passed is for us to elect legislators who will make that happen.

Senator Tom Udall (D – NM) has proposed such an amendment and expects that there will be a vote in the Senate. Of course, we don’t know whether it will pass with the necessary 2/3 majority – it might – but prospects for it to even be put up for a vote in the House seem dim, considering the obstacle mentality of House leadership. Clearly, it will require a bunch of reformer types to be in Congress to get this done. That is where Lawrence Lessig comes in.

Lessig is one of the clearest thinkers about the issue of big money stealing our democracy and I recommend any of his YouTube (here’s one) or TED (here’s one) videos. Now, though, he has identified that to make change it is necessary to play the political game and get a little dirty, to wallow in some of the same mud we want to eliminate in order to effect reform. O’, the irony of that!

To that end – to get big money out of our politics – he is organizing a SuperPAC to help to elect reformer types who will get that amendment to happen. Take a look at his video about this and watch all 5 minutes – see what you think of what he is doing.

I strongly recommend giving your full consideration to the dreadful state of our democracy – which is just this side of a full oligarchy (rule by the wealthy few) – and then take appropriate action. Just thinking about this issue isn’t enough. We – you and I – must take action.


Ed. note:  There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better.  It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better.  That is the reason for these posts.  To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.  Please help by passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA

Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
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5 Responses to O’, The Irony!
  1. TC Smythe Reply

    Please tell me you gave as well! Here’s where the PAC is as of 4:00pm CST 5/10/14:

    • JaxPolitix Reply

      Yup – I sure did. And I urge everyone to pitch in – because it’s for all of us.

  2. Aaron Reply


    The problem with that idea is that someone then has to decide what constitutes political advertising and political polling. We are talking a commission. The FEC, perhaps? So open to corruption and abuse.

    Make the voters = to the funders with a voucher system. Seems a clean and beautiful solution.

  3. Rosemary Beutell Reply

    It’s nice to hear that this concern has many listeners and hopefully, we can translate that into action.

  4. Dan Wallace Reply

    Jack, if you want to eliminate a vice, I think you’re much better off attacking demand rather than supply because supply will always find ways to leak through. If you want to diminish the role of money in politics, make the money unnecessary. The only way I can think of to do that would be to outlaw political advertising, at least on television. Why? Because that’s where the money goes. As you know, Willie Sutton is the only economist I think is worth listening to.

    What? Unconstitutional you say? We already have laws that prohibit campaigning withing X feet of a polling place on the grounds that it’s coercive. Political advertising is coercive (I know – I’ve created some and it was. It was also ruthlessly effective). So now, as the old joke goes, we’ve established what you are – we’re just negotiating over price.

    While we’re at it, we should also outlaw political polling. Make politicians tell us what they think and believe without having the benefit of knowing what we want them to say.

    You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. . .