No republic in history has ever survived as a functioning democracy more than a few generations once political bribery is legalized or becomes widespread
I do not think enough people realize why Dems were unsuccessful at getting done what they said they would. Many think they were lied to.
It’s up to us to explain that it was the 50 Republicans and 2 Democrats that blocked everything the House was able to pass. Most people, who do not follow politics, do not understand how Congress and passing legislation works.
You are right, though it is more than just Buckley and Citizens United. The military-industrial-security system gives rewards to each Congressional district in the form of contracts from that very same government, with lobbyists shepherding the connections. While the campaign contribution rulings closed the loop, with corporations giving some of that same profit back to those who voted for their contracts, much of the system was in place for decades. And as Gore Vidal noted, there's always some level of corruption, it's just a matter of how big it is.
But things have gotten out of control, and it doesn't help that few states have non-partisan drawing of House boundaries, not to mention the cost of running for office has become astronomical. Perhaps we need a new Constitution, though that could be very dangerous, or at least several Progressive amendments, but getting those through is also a heavy life.
So long as the U.S. tries to be a military superpower with an informal world empire, and runs the national debt up to the Moon, this situation will likely continue. Environmental disasters, a weakening of military power, and the end of the dollar as the world's reserve currency will stop all this...and likely open the door to a real dictator, unless we are very fortunate and don't go the way of the U.S.S.R.
Thank you for continuing to push "Article 3 Section 2 Clause 2" as a key in solving this crisis. Scotus truly is the enemy of progress in America.
The citing of "Article 3.2.2" on legislation will be essential to saving America on probably every other problem Scotus inflicts upon America:
1.. Abortion rights
2.. Banning guns
3.. Scotus term limits and expanding the court.
4.. EPA powers and that of other federal agencies.
5.. Stopping the "independent state legislature theory" ruling coming later this year
A good history but not mentioning that Democrats are a major part of the corruption so just campaigning against it is as hollow as Biden's public health policy. The problem is not messaging. It's that Democrats campaign on one thing and then do the exact opposite when they get into office. Those who are aware of what Biden is doing, or failing to do, like younger people as in my young adult children, overwhelmingly despise Biden for what he is. Meanwhile, your show props him up as the next FDR. Therein is the problem--enabling a judgment-addled, donor-serving party to continue their doctrine of "incremental change" which if you haven't noticed has not only gone in the wrong direction but has been easily accelerated by Republicans who are not even in the majority. That's what Biden's meeting in the middle/centrist nonsense garners--a Democratic Party moving to the right for fear of what Republicans will say about them.
"The entire Republican caucus in both the US House and Senate and every Republican in every state house and senate in America are on the take" -- as are so many Democrat lawmakers. We deal with surface realities, like these, instead of addressing what's causal to them, which is a worldview based on money instead of on morality. UBI, which has been successful in all the small experiements that have been initiated, remains a whisper. How to get it to be a roar? Lift people out of dealing with survival and they can think about higher order issues, where, if we were basically cooperative instead of self-interest being paramount, we could deal with what to do for the good of the whole.
The Tilman Act targeted and prohibited corporate contributions to political campaigns, a critical element in the corruption of democracy. Tilman was eviscerated, as Thom points out, and since then the money pouring into politics has become astronomical. In the 2020 election cycle $14.4 billion was spent on political campaigns, as tallied on the Open Secrets website. Presidential races totaled just over $5.7 billion. Congressional campaign spending topped $8.7 billion. This was more than twice the spending in the 2016 election cycle, which itself was the most expensive campaign in history. Now Senators spend, on average, $19.3 million to get re-elected; Representatives about $2.3 million. President Biden’s campaign raised $1.624 billion, Trump’s $1.087 billion.
There are two problems here: a literal campaign INDUSTRY has been created; ad agencies, writers, consultants, media experts and of course the major recipients of all the money, the media corporations, now concentrated into about six national behemoths. This industry has an enormous vested interest in the system, and will fight to the death to maintain it. The other problem: Representatives and Senators now spend, literally, half their days in fundraising activities--when they might otherwise be working to serve the interests of the nation and their constituents. The $14 billion in political contributions is a problem that defies solution, absent an overturn of Citizen's United.
But campaign contributions are just one side of the equation: the other side is spending all that money in campaign expenditures. In 1910 Congress looked at that and passed a companion to the Tilman Act: the Federal Corrupt Practices Act. It said nothing at all about the campaign contributions a candidate could receive. Instead it imposed severe and inflexible limits on their campaign expenditures. Candidates could spend no more $0.03 per constituent, up to caps of $5,000 for House campaigns and $25,000 in Senate races. Similar modest limits today (let’s adjust for inflation) would liberate candidates from the burden of raising millions—you don’t need what you can’t spend—and no candidate could outspend another to buy an election. Effective campaigns of informing the voters would be adequately funded, but the marathons of spectacle would end. Quick. Simple. Effective. If you want to get Big Money out of politics just make it, in a roundabout way, illegal.
Limiting candidates’ expenditures is commonplace. Eighty three of the world's 97 democracies do so: the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Austria, France, Ireland, Belgium, New Zealand, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Mexico, Bulgaria, Poland, Chile, Italy, Portugal, and 66 more.
The spending caps in Canada and the UK have been in place for more than a century, and both countries limit expenditures by the political parties as well; US$24.9 million per election cycle in Britain, in Canada US$21.0 million. The Individual candidates can spend no more than US$91,700 in Canada and US$131,000 in Britain: trifles compared to the millions their American counterparts must raise. And isn’t $100,000, plus-or-minus, adequate? Are these countries less well governed? Are their democracies intact?
But the Federal Corrupt Practices Act was ruled Unconstitutional in 1976, in the Buckley v. Valeo decision. Spending by candidates was ruled an act of free speech.
So there we have it. Corporations are people, money is speech, democracy is damned nearly dead.
(I've lifted much of this from a book I'm working on, and an online essay published in 2019: "Torpedo Citizen's United to Save the Green New Deal: a 1910 Law Shows How."
Dear Professor: Is there any historical evidence of a culture/nation recovering from the current USA level of governance by greed and mass brainwashing/conditioning/habituation? I threw in modifications because I suppose serfs in 900AD brutally mutually policed their "uppity" occasional neighbor who didn't adequately bow as the Lordship rode by. Generally, any upset of the degree of division in wealth and power we live in now has historically resulted from climate devastation. French Revolution: crop failure: famine. So incipient now, with famine in Central America, and the North Atlantic Current hasn't even failed yet. Lake Chad is almost gone!(It's a Baby Boomer encyclopedia thing.) It is so sad that the peons slaughter each other before they realize, it actually is a zero sum game, and they lost, and it actually wasn't their (Jew, colored, immigrant, effeminate, liberal) neighbor who did it to them. Ho hum. It's the savage, normal human race. Not seeing a step up to better outcome this eternal time around.
Thom says "No republic in history has ever survived as a functioning democracy more than a few generations once political bribery is legalized or becomes widespread"
I'd add that every republic in history was formed to end widespread political bribery.
I'm an optimist. I think we will break the cycle - and die from AGW instead.
Great article. To me, the swamp has reached our chin and we can't swim.
Gotta wonder if this will hold…