OWS vs. legalized bribery

It could be that 2011 will go down in the books as the year when even the lowest of “low-information” voters realized, thanks to the Occupy Wall Street movement, that government has become dysfunctional because the interests of our elected officials are at odds with the interests of the electorate:

From its inception, OWS has focused on the concept of legalized bribery, as the continually rising cost of a political campaign – an average of $1.4 million for a successful House run, up fourfold in real dollars since 1976, and nearly $10 million for a Senate seat – has been largely subsidized by wealthy donors, corporations and special interests, in return for legislation that favors their interests. It’s a form of regulatory capture that most first-world democracies outlaw as corruption, but that Americans know as “the way things are,” along with “ask your doctor” pharmaceutical ads and campaigns pitching products directly to young children. The result is an almost total lack of confidence in our elected officials, as reflected by Congress’ almost impossibly low 9 percent approval rating.

The fact that Congress is moving away from the rest of the public is exactly why Occupy Wall Street has found such a giant hole in the political conversation to step into, and why our national representatives have kept their distance even when polls showed the public responding powerfully to our complaints and slogans. In a true market of political ideas, we’d have been prime targets for coopting. Instead, President Obama works “99 percent” into his speeches, and business as usual continues…

Despite such indifference, Occupy Wall Street resonated where previous protests petered out by creating and holding a physical space where it was impossible to avert one’s gaze… The 99 percent rediscovered the collective power of our voice, and started using it to make a whole lot of noise… In 2012, expect to hear more of that noise from Occupy the Caucuses and Occupy Congress. Money talks, but we do too.

Good diagnosis. Now it’s time to start working on a cure.

3 thoughts on “OWS vs. legalized bribery

  1. odd man out, it’s ‘a’ diagnosis. At the root of all of this mess is the big lie concerning leadership. OWS has no leaders. It has a nightly general assembly which votes, democratically, about how to address the issues that the group believes to be important. This leaderless format is not an accident. The opposite of a dictator (see North Korea) is the political system known as anarchy. If there are no leaders (presidents, Congressmen/women, governors, etc.) corrupting them is impossible. The only reason for the 1% to accumulate wealth is to use it to protect their own interests. When each citizen (the 99%) is the designated leader who will the 1% payoff to work his/her will? The raeson for wealth inequality will become obsolete. “We don’t need no damn leaders we need pleb’s.”

  2. Unmentioned in the campaign cost figures is the fact that the lion’s share of them are for various forms of advertising. Most of those ads or ad-analogs happen over the public airwaves or the public fiber internet backbone.

    Officially — not that it’s been enforced in generations — companies have to make room for public interest messages as part of the cost of doing business.

    So, make it part of the licence that x amount of time has to be given to political campaigns for a few months before major elections. No other political advertising allowed.

    We win by not being smothered in blather. Democracy wins by leveling the playing field. The people holding the moneybags lose. … Oh. Wait.

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