Monday, May 5, 2014

Money The Root Of All Evil In Politics?

I often think of America as a steam train thumping its way into the future through sometimes beautiful, sometimes hazardous terrain. These days the hazard is the GOP. 

The NYT ran an article today on Rand Paul getting Rupert Murdoch to swan around with him at the Kentucky Derby. Many believe Paul is the GOP’s hottest candidate for 2016, and Murdoch is under investigation by the FBI and by the British Government for bribery and corruption. The accusation doesn’t make a man guilty, but it’s hard to believe he’s innocent. Whether he is or not, he’s a major contributor to the GOP. The NYT article showed Rand Paul as sucking up horribly to Murdoch throughout the day, and Murdoch tolerating it, but his final comment was “I’ve given enough to Kentucky”.  

A lot of readers, myself included, were disgusted at Paul’s sucky-uppy behaviour, but one reader, Terri of WA, commented “…Campaign finance and whether or not it needs reforming is a great discussion to have, but let's not pretend that its [sec] only Mr. Paul and his other GOP colleagues who benefit from contributions.” The NYT editorial team chose that comment as one of its picks.

Terri’s right, of course. But the problem isn’t that politicians court wealth, it’s what that wealth is used for and what the politicians who get into power with its help do with that power. There isn’t a Democrat equivalent of either Charles or David Koch, or Rupert Murdoch but there is the Democracy Alliance. In the past it’s spent a fraction of what Koch Industries has, but currently it’s attracting more big donors. 

Koch Industries have spent a fortune disseminating easily provable lies about the ACA. They are one of the biggest polluters in the world and a lot of their efforts are focused on politicians who call for small government so Environment Protection laws won't be passed, and less social welfare so taxes won’t be raised to pay for it. The politicians they have in their pockets have a huge interest in gerrymandering so democracy isn’t a reality, and in promoting prejudice, inequality and wages that are too low to sustain a healthy middle class. 

On the other hand, according to the Washington Post, the Democracy Alliance is working to have a stronger hand in the redrawing of district lines for state legislatures and the U.S. House so that democracy can play a role again. The politicians are pro environment protection, clean energy development, equality, decent minimum wage, a healthy and functioning middle class. 

That a lot of money is raised and used in politics isn't the problem. Why and how it's used is everything.  Republicans care passionately about protecting their wealth, which is understandable, but they’ll do it at the cost of the world that actually supplies that wealth, which is just short-term thinking and downright stupid. The wealth of big Democrat donors also gets affected by keeping taxes low, but they’re smarter, have longer-term vision and an understanding of what makes for a truly healthy society. So they work towards it, even if in the short term it affects their bottom line. 

In my book, the idea that money is the root of all evil is ridiculous. Money spent by the GOP and its backers spells disaster in the long run for the US and the world but money spent by Democrats is going to a good cause. So in a world where money talks, the more Democrats  can raise and spend the better.