Most people suspect that our politicians are driven by money, rather than the interests of the voters who elected them, or who live in their districts, or the broader good of the country. Well, you were right. But how do corporations exert this influence? And isn’t it illegal? Well, sorta. First, corporations are making political donations, often funded through PAC’s. Loophole. Second, corporations are funding “non-profit” “foundations” which are political lobbying groups and think tanks to influence public opinion. Tax Break AND Loophole. A recent example is undermining public transportation so that fossil fuel and auto industries prosper (see “How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country“). Thirdly, and most longstanding, is “lobbying”, which is supposed to be regulated, but in reality is NOT. Buying influence through Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, is just the latest scandalous example. More broadly, by repealing Obama-era ethics regulations and failing to enforce those that remain, this administration has ensured corporate influence and corruption of the value of a person’s vote is brought to an all time high (or Low, if you will). Loopholes. With the removal of any semblance of campaign contribution limits, politicians spend more of their time fundraising with “donors” to keep them in office than actually legislating, and they are not motivated to constrain those abuses of the influence of wealth – because, after all, they just WON the last election, so if it works for them, it must be good.
The past 38 years of rising inequality should have made it obvious that the economic & political systems in the United States are NOT working for the average citizen, as they fall further and further behind economically. But next election please don’t forget that HOW your job got tougher, your schools got worse, your healthcare got more expensive (and worse) and HOW corporate wealth controls U.S. policy is because corporate profit motives have taken control of your Congress. And vote to stop it. Campaign finance reform. Million dollar penalties. Jail time. This won’t be your government until you do. Right now it belongs to the Corporations.