I very much fear that we have sold our electoral system to those who can shell out the most money to control it. When the governor of Wisconsin can outspend his opponent by a massive margin of seven to one, and when most of the money at his disposal comes from organizations and individuals out of state with a vested economic interest in the outcome, "democracy" has become a hollow concept indeed.
What does this bode for the fall, and beyond? The US Supreme Court has unleashed a monster in the Citizens United decision. The vast sums of money now available from corporate sources, much of it anonymous, will allow corporate voices to dominate the debate. It's clear that they already purchase decision-making power in congressional action--such as it is--through the lobbying power that only money can buy. We know that these interests write much of the legislation in state government houses, and assure its passage. We know that, not content with controlling the debate, these interests are now working actively to control the very membership in state and national governments by manipulating voter eligibility and registration. In particular, the disempowering of the unions that began with Ronald Reagan is being aggressively pursued on numerous national fronts.
It's deeply distressing to have to acknowledge that a vast popular movement in Wisconsin was effectively brought to a halt not by democratic debate of the issues and policies involved but by money, the purchase of radio and television airwaves and misleading if not outright false rhetoric. If we fail to address the inequitable distribution of money in political campaigns and in government itself, we will need very soon to kiss the last vestiges of democracy goodbye--if we have not already done so. No matter how much passion, conviction, dedication and grassroots work we bring to our efforts, we risk finding ourselves at the mercy of cynical political operatives and their unconscionably wealthy sponsors.
I keep wondering, where does this end? What's the tipping point? When do sufficient numbers of voters arrive at the understanding that they are being manipulated to vote against their own interests? On one important issue alone, it seems we are willing to be led by the noses by those who seek to profit from the health needs of the nation, effectively sucking out of the system the money that would otherwise be devoted to needed medical care... This, friends, is madness. My great fear is that we are already past that tipping point and don't even know it; that have effectively already sold our power to those who would use it to their own advantage.