Posted October 15, 2013
by Jerry Alatalo
-William Butler Yeats
Jim Hightower reminds people of Will Rogers with his use of humor to get across his messages. He is known as a “populist”, which is defined as one who belongs to the “People’s Party”. Now the people’s party seems like an organization that would definitely describe itself as inclusive. Mr. Hightower seems like a well-meaning fellow who simply speaks his truth. I believe that he is generally well-liked by those he comes into contact with.
In this video he speaks at a meeting in Illinois of people who are trying to overturn the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court. Without going into a lengthy discussion with heavy-duty legal analysis, citing court cases through history as if in a university law course lecture, many simply heard the summary of what Citizens United meant for elections of representatives and immediately thought, “oh, no”.
I have what could be considered an “extreme” view on campaign financing. My view is that every last dime must be banned from the election process, including the banning of all political advertisements right down to bumper stickers and yard signs. It just never made sense that the candidate who hired the best marketers and advertising people has been winning elections. It seems like a candidate should only be able to convince potential voters with the explaining of his or her ideas.
I am for lengthy debates including all parties, and lots of them. Jim Hightower is likeable because he makes his points in a simple, direct way that most everyone can understand.
Looking at the Citizens United decision leads me to the conclusion that, just as there is separation of church and state, it is time to amend the constitution to include separation of money and state. Why should there be the separating of money and state? Just look around at the state of America and the world. Big money on Wall Street and the largest corporations has led to their being off-the-chain with the total lack of regulation, unchecked corruption, and political bribery.
If and when all money becomes absent from elections and campaigns, true democracy will be given the chance of becoming reality. Democracy has been seen by most men and women as a form of governing where each person has an equal say and power. For the Supreme Court to come to decide that money equals speech defies logic when we define “speech”.
The original writers of the constitution surely would not consider money to equal speech if they were here now. Their inclusion of the freedom of speech language in the constitution was to protect the voice of all people no matter their wealth or status. While writing this free speech language they had King George of England in their minds. To prevent royalty in the new country was their aim-not to promote it. When the Supreme Court ruled that unlimited spending by rich people and corporations was OK, they failed to interpret the true intent of free speech language in the constitution.
Perhaps my view on elections/campaigns is naïve or simple. My idea of free speech is one where someone is free to talk as much as they want, with their physical tongue, or through writing. So billionaires can talk all they want to candidates, sharing their views on the best way for the government to go ahead. Workers can talk endlessly to candidates about their views as well. Talk away.
But if you write any checks you will be in big trouble.
Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura made a good point in a recent interview when he suggested that ballots should not include the party names republican, democrat, green, independent etc. His point was that, if only the candidates’ names were on the ballot, the voter would have to become informed on the candidates’ ideas, before they became sure of who they wanted to vote for. People place themselves in a spot on the political spectrum and walk into the polling place sure they will vote straight republican, democrat, green, etc. before even researching the ideas of all candidates.
Jesse also shares what his dad told him: “why do candidates spend a million dollars to get a job that pays eighty thousand?”. Over a billion dollars was expended on the 2012 presidential election-for a job that pays $400,000. Once elected, politicians immediately begin thinking about how to raise money for the next election. If and when all money becomes banned from elections leaders can get to work solving problems-not raising money.
When one gets down it, what is the work of an elected representative? It is to look out for the best interests and well-being of those people in his or her district or region, and the nation as a whole. At this point those who have the most wealth and power are being given much more attention from elected representatives than the average Joe or Jane. Separating money and state will result in true representative democracy.
“speech, n. 1. power of speaking. 2. utterance. 3. talk before audience. 4. language.”
Money is not included in the definition of speech.
- Editorial: Money is again talking, loudly, in the Supreme Court (stltoday.com)
- Groups rally at Wisconsin Capitol against ‘Citizens United’ (host.madison.com)
- Obama: Citizens United Helped Pave the Way to Shutdown (yesmagazine.org)
- Forbidden Thoughts on McCutcheon v. FEC (acslaw.org)
- Get ready for Son of Citizens United (kansascity.com)
- On the Road Against Citizens United (inthesetimes.com)
- The Citizens United Shutdown (readersupportednews.org)
- Democracy vs. ‘Wealthocracy’: People Rally Against ‘Next Citizens United’ (commondreams.org)
- Obama Slams Citizens United and the Koch Brothers for Skewing Our Politics (politicususa.com)
- Full Show: Citizens United – The Sequel (billmoyers.com)