If there is one thing that all Americans can agree on it is that money drives politics. In the United States our government largely marches to the beat set by wealthy personal donors and corporate backers. Elected officials in Washington acquiesce to well-funded lobbyists who represent the interests of the most powerful and profitable organizations in the world.
There is nothing inherently wrong with lobbying or petitioning the government in pursuit of your own interests. That freedom is what makes the American system of government so special. However, that freedom is often used to the benefit of a select few against the best wishes and judgement of the masses.
The only way to fix America’s broken economy is to first fix America’s broken government. Washington no longer represents the people and both political parties are at fault.
According to CNNMoney.com, the inability of our government to actually serve its people has affected the attitudes of Americans even at the highest rungs of the social ladder. There is a growing movement among American CEOs to cease funding for political campaigns until Washington gets its act together. Howard Schultz of Starbucks started the movement by encouraging other like-minded CEOs to stop funding political campaigns in an act of protest against Washington’s lack of functionality.
The plan seems ideal on the surface. It embodies the natural market taking care of waste and excess on its own. These CEOs have chosen to willingly stop funding political campaigns because they no longer believe that those politicians are doing a quality job.
Unfortunately, the story is not so simple. First and foremost, the only way to remove the pervasive influence of money on Washington would be to get every CEO, and indeed every individually wealthy person, to mutually agree to stop funding campaigns. As we have seen over the past year that is precisely the opposite of what is happening. Thanks to the ill-advised Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case it is easier than ever to buy a politician or an entire campaign.
Howard Schultz and his friends, largely contributors to Democratic politicians, may agree that money is breeding corruption but others are simply picking up the slack. Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch (Koch Industries) have used their own considerable wealth along with company coffers to wage what The New Yorker described as a “war against Obama.” The Koch brothers are officially libertarian political idealists, but that has not stopped them from organizing and mobilizing the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party against the president and Democrats in Congress.
Most Tea Partiers think that they are independent actors speaking out against the excesses of government. They are largely unaware that they are the political pawns of a super-rich elite group led by two of the wealthiest men in the world – men who have a vested interest in using conservative constituencies to enrich themselves.
The concept put in action by Schultz and his cohort is a noble endeavor, but it is also a doomed one. There is no way to independently take enough money out of politics to remind the politicians that they need to be working for the people instead of the financiers.
The only way to get the American recovery going again is to make sure our elected officials are actually capable of doing their jobs. Both sides of the aisle need to be able to work with each other on trade, health care and monetary policy. They cannot do that when money is the primary motivation for any and all action.