BY COLIN PERSONS
I grew up an inner city liberal democrat. My St. Paul high school, when polled before the 2010 election favored Obama by 4-1. The last Republican mayor of St. Paul was elected in 1966. It’s fair to say I drank the blue Kool-Aid throughout my youth. This said; it really was the only Kool-Aid on the table.
I am proud of many things the DFL has done within Minnesota; implementation of a balanced budget (albeit recently), the beautiful new light rail running through my beloved hometown, marriage equality, quality maintenance of public spaces and parks, access to sound public education and more. I love Minnesota and am extremely proud of our State.
This pride does not extend to the federal level. On a federal level, the land of free is governed by the rich and powerful, for the benefit of the rich and powerful. Contrary to what we are taught, democracy is not the most accurate word to describe our system of government. The following is the Merriam Webster definition for oligarchy: “a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.”
A recent study of 1,779 public policy questions, answers and ensuing legislative actions, by a pair of Princeton and Northwestern University professors concluded:
“Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism…Our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”
“Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”
This should not come as a surprise to attentive Americans. 2012: In a country up to its neck in debt, our prospective “leaders” saw fit to collectively spend (congressional, presidential, campaigns) 6.2 billion dollars on elections (opensecrets.org). 2014: The highest court in the land of the free rules via Mccuthchen v. Federal Election Committee that campaign donation limits violate first amendment rights, indisputably giving the wealthy greater control of the election process.
The percentage of Senators becoming lobbyists is up an astronomical 1,500 percent in the last 40 years (opensecrets.org). Why? Because the business of buying political influence is big business, and who better to use to buy political influence than someone who has recently relinquished democratically earned political influence.
Lobbyists often make outrageous sums of money, leading to the point of this whole tangent; for this I will use the example of Congressman Bill Tauzin, a congressman who formerly had tremendous influence in public policy regarding healthcare. Tauzin now works for a giant pharmaceutical corporation as a lobbyist. How likely is it that Tauzin acted in a manner benefiting the Americans who elected him, as opposed to the corporation that now pays him millions?
While both Republicans and Democrats incessantly sound their concern for the “average American” and “our great middle class” their actions indicate where their allegiances lie. As a country we need drastic shift of political landscape.
For this to occur an engaged population is a necessity. Educate yourselves, identify bias, and support candidates who will actually help you, not just say they will. If the country were to do this, I can only hope there will be more than two people debating for the next presidency.
I believe that in order to quench the nations thirst for true freedom, greater equality and quality legislation we need to step away from the saturated red and blue Kool-Aid, and embrace something more pure.