BILL MOYERS: (from 2012)
we need a serious new vision.
A radical minority of the superrich has gained ascendency over politics, buying the laws, tax breaks, subsidies, and rules that create a permanent state of vast inequality, by which they can further help themselves to America’s wealth and resources.
Their appetite for more is insatiable. As we write, Mitt Romney (along with the Oklahoma billionaire executive who chairs his campaign’s energy advisory committee), after two fundraisers in which he raised nearly $l0 million from the oil and gas industry, has announced that if elected president he will end a century of federal control over oil and gas drilling on public lands.
Theodore Roosevelt, the first great advocate for public lands in the White House, would be rolling in his grave, if Dick Cheney hadn’t already dumped his bones in a Wyoming mining shaft during the first hours of the Bush-Halliburton administration.
We are nearing the culmination of a cunning and fanatical drive to dismantle the political institutions, legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual and cultural frameworks that were slowly and painstakingly built over decades to protect everyday citizens from the excesses of private power. The “city on the hill” has become a fortress of privilege, guarded by a hired political class and safely separated from the economic devastations it has created.
Socrates said to understand a thing, you must first name it. As in Athens then, so in America now: The name for what’s happening to our political system is corruption — a deep, systemic corruption.
Let’s begin with the Supreme Court, back in the l880s breathing life into an artificial creation called “the corporation.” An entity with no body, soul, sense, or mortality was endowed with all the rights of a living, breathing “person”. Closer to our own time, the Supreme Court of 1976 in Buckley vs. Valeo ruled that wealthy individuals could spend unlimited amounts of their own fortunes to get themselves elected to office, and that anyone could pour dollars by the hundreds of thousands into the war chests of political action committees. Money, the justices declared in another burst of invention, was simply a form of speech.
Meaningful oversight of campaign expenditure, necessary if representative government is to have a fair chance against rapacious wealth, was swept away.
The re-election of every Member of Congress today is now at the mercy of corporate barons and private princes who can make or destroy a candidacy by giving to those who vote “right,” or lavishing funds on opponents of those who don’t.
Senator John McCain knows. he describes our elections as nothing less than “an influence-peddling scheme in which both parties compete to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder.”
For the ultimate absurdity of money’s role, we must look to another group of happy billionaires, the corporate owners of the television stations. In one of the great perversions of the Constitution foisted on its subjects by their overlords, the public airwaves where free speech should reign have become private enclosures to which access must be bought. Free? It’s about as free as Tiffany pearls.
And in the foul air of democracy, the household stability and income mobility of everyday Americans has been upended. the middle class falls behind and the poor sink deeper from sight as political donations determine the course and speech of policies.
it’s a Catch-22. To fight the power of private money, it is first necessary to get elected. To get elected it is necessary to raise astronomical amounts of private money from people who expect obedience in return.
where is the outrage at this corruption? well, it’s partly smoothed away by a corporate media with every regard for the public’s thirst for distractions and none for its need to know.
This was not meant to be. America was intended to be a system of checks and balances — to keep an equilibrium in how power works and for whom. Because of the vast sums of money buying up our politics, those checks and balances are fast disappearing and time is against us.
We must note what blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have been distorting or attempting to flush down the memory hole. Robbing a nation of its historical memory is the most devastating of all larcenies because it opens the door to far worse crimes.
But we have been here before.
populists and progressives who over a century ago took on the financial and political corruptors faced heavy odds, too — a Supreme Court that exalted wealth as practically a sacred right, the distortion by intellectual and religious leaders of the theory of evolution to “prove” that the richest were the fittest to rule.
With government in the grip of such exploiters, child labor was a fact of life, men and women were paid pittances for long hours of work and left unprotected from industrial diseases and accidents, and workers too old to be useful to employers any longer were abandoned to starvation or the poorhouse.
no model laws existed to protect them.
(Just as no clear, tried model exists to get out of this current mess, but it’s possible. that’s why, just like back then, they must be thought of & invented.)
these pioneers of progressivism were tough citizens, their political courage fueled by moral conviction. They sensed, as the Kansas editor William Allen White wrote, that their country had fallen into the hands of self-seekers (much as it has now), their civilization needed recasting, and a new relationship must be forged between haves and have-nots. When the two major parties failed them they gave full throat to their discontent by fighting from outside, and when Theodore Roosevelt’s breakaway Progressive Party held its organizing convention in l912 — exactly one hundred years ago — they shook the rafters with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Oh, for such defiance today!
We need to organize new strategies and messages, and recapture control of the nation’s life.
in the words of the great senator Robert LaFollette from Wisconsin: “Democracy is a life and demands constant struggle.”
we are the descendants of these pioneers… from those who fought in the revolutionary war to those who fought for civil rights, we are the new front line of these struggles against the corruption and injustice which have now re-emerged so visibly.
we should honor those who came before us with the courage to do something. it’s our turn to stand up and a speak out against the abuses that are causing so much needless suffering in our country and everywhere across the world.
again we need to organize and be creative and vocal, and catch the world’s attention, because as it is right now, not much is gonna change…
Action on global warming? Not while the fossil fuel industries and corporate-backed climate deniers have their powerful say in the matter.
Spend money on modernizing our rail system or creating more public transportation in our auto-choked city streets? What heavy artillery the auto, gasoline and highway construction lobbies would rain down on any such proposal.
Instead, we once again get distracted away from the death rattle of American democracy by an overdose of campaign cash.
Where is the passion we share for driving money’s deadly, destructive impact from all politics?
should everyone do with so much less just so that big business can have more?
Hope no longer springs eternal. We know the odds against reversing the hardening grip of the monied interests are disheartening. Those interests are playing to win the ferocious class war they launched 40 years ago with a strategy devised by the corporate lawyer Lewis Powell (later a Supreme Court justice) and a call to arms from the Wall Street wheeler-dealer William Simon, who had been Richard Nixon’s treasury secretary. Simon argued that “funds generated by business” would have to “rush by multimillions” into conservative causes in order to uproot the institutions and the “heretical” morality of the New Deal. He called for an “alliance” between right-wing ideologues and “men of action in the capitalist world” to mount a “veritable crusade” against everything brought forth by the long struggle for a progressive America.
We need to let a new passion cry out for all to hear and be inspired to join in this worthy struggle, because whether we realize it or not, it impacts all of our lives deeply. . .
Each party gives the silent treatment to the working poor, and bellow forth the platitudes of America’s middle class & the “spirit of enterprise and innovation” that will restore our robust economy and world leadership. If the sufferings of the unemployed and underemployed get any mention, it will be to blame them on the other party. As for taking on the predatory rich, forget it.
Let us learn something from the emptiness of their words.
if all this doesn’t make you mad as hell and ready to fight back against the Money Power, we are all in real trouble.
where is our passion indeed… we must let it out. it wants to come out so badly and it’s ready to come out.
we have showed bravery in the past to fight for what is right,
let us once again return to such defiance of tyranny today.