Steve Van Zandt
Posted 12/10/11 on Huffington Post
I was obsessed with politics in the ’80s. I’ve recovered and I’m feeling much better now thank you.
By the time I realized, as interesting as it was, I’d better stop this stuff and try to earn a living, I had discovered many of our social problems and quality of life issues could be traced to the same political source: our corrupt-by-definition electoral system. The solution to the problem was as easy to discover as the cause: The elimination of all private finance in the electoral process.
I was working doing most of my research in the area of our foreign policy since WWll, whatever fell under the umbrella of international liberation politics, but I examined and analyzed a fair amount of local issues as well.
I wanted to know how things work? Where’s the power? Who’s pulling the strings?
The economy of the world came down to the unholy trinity of guns, drugs and gasoline — military industry, drugs (legal and illegal), and energy — and now I would add agribusiness as the fourth controlling commodity, and always with the enabling bankers never too far out of sight making their profits far too often from wars and slave labor.
While that readily explained the suffering of the Third World, it didn’t immediately answer why inAmericait was possible for so many people to be unhappy with our government’s decisions, both foreign and domestic, when we’re supposedly living in a democracy.
A quick analysis of our electoral process revealed the obvious answer. The simple fact is we do not live in a democracy. Certainly not the kind our Founding Fathers intended. We live in a corporate dictatorship represented by, and beholden to, no single human being you can reason with or hold responsible for anything.
The corporation has but one obligation, which is to increase profits for it’s shareholders by any legal means necessary by the next fiscal quarter.
They have no moral, patriotic, social, environmental, generational or even sustainable responsibility. They have only a short-term economic mandate and their only responsibility to society is to stay within the law to accomplish it.
This doesn’t mean corporations shouldn’t exist or even that their directors are evil by their very DNA. It has been a legally acceptable basic flaw in the form of our capitalist system that allows corporations to operate without a moral compass or obligation to society — but that’s a discussion for another day.
The law is rarely a problem because the corporations’ legal obligations are pretty much designed first and foremost for their maximum profit by the legislation created by the legislators belonging to our two national political parties, both of which are wholly bought, sold and controlled by Wall Street. The banks and the corporations. In other words the game is rigged. Feel like a sucker? We all do because we all are.
The manipulation, aided by a very willing media also owned by the corporations, has made things easier beginning with what has become the amazing Orwellian staple of every newscast, selling the public on the lie that the Dow has somehow becomeAmerica’s scoreboard!
We’re all hypnotized, rooting for them like they’re our home team at a football game, cheering for THEIR scoreboard mindlessly forgetting WE’RE THE AWAY TEAM!!
You think your congressman is working all day to get you a job? He may want to. He or she is probably not a bad person. They probably want to do the right thing. But they can’t. Long-time Capitol Hill staff and campaign strategists tell me the average legislator spends one-third of their time (or more) every day raising money or on activities related to raising money.
Yes, they are “elected” which creates the mass delusion of democracy to keep the masses from rioting, but congressional races are costing millions of dollars and some Senate seats are going for tens of millions each, and they’re predicting well over one billion dollars for the next presidency.
That’s some democracy we’ve created there, isn’t it?
Of the people?
By the people?
For the people?
Democracy inAmericais a sick joke and the masses aren’t laughing anymore.
Yes, we can demonstrate. We can march. We can write and sign petitions to our Representatives. We can occupy.
And we should because it’s healthy to vent, and we don’t feel so all alone. But the truth is, other than the value of venting, we’re wasting our time. It is naïve to expect political results from any of these activities.
Our representative can give us lip service. A lot of sympathy. Empathy even. But we don’t pay their media bills, gabeesh?
We need to eliminate all private finance from the electoral process.
And let’s not be distracted by “reforms.” Let’s spare ourselves the unnecessary discussions about transparent disclosure, or the conflict of interest of foreign countries buying favorable treatment, or protection after protection being gutted by dangerously diluted regulations, or trying to impose this limit or that limit, etc., etc., etc.
Campaign finance doesn’t need reform. It needs elimination.
To accomplish this we must overturn Buckley v. Valeo, one of the two or three worst decisions in the history of the Supreme Court.
The ruling makes the extraordinary decision that money is protected by the First Amendment.
Presumably Chief Justice Gordon Gekko presiding!
These smartest guys in the room actually decided that spending money is the equivalent of free speech. You might wonder why no one in that smart room stood up and said wait a minute, if money is speech, isn’t lack of money lack of speech?
You know, as in the rich get to talk, and the poor don’t? How are the non-moneyed classes represented by this decision?
I guess nobody stood up then, but it’s time to stand up now.
In fact, I am now introducing a new pledge to be signed by our legislators. Of both parties.Indiestoo. Everybody’s welcome.
THE PLEDGE FOR A DEMOCRATIC AMERICA
(We’ll need someone more educated than me to draw it up, or we can copy Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, but it would go something like this.)
I, The Undersigned, pledge to overturn Buckley v. Valeo and eliminate all private finance from the electoral process, thusly restoring America to it’s democratic principles. I may take corporate, PAC, SuperPAC, or Chinese money to get elected or reelected (martyrdom accomplishes nothing), but upon my election I will make campaign finance elimination one of my immediate top priorities.
Now somebody should be starting a new Third Party whose platform is dedicated to this one idea. Twenty-five years ago that’s what I’d be doing right now.
But the need for a Third Party aside, this idea applies for everyone. Just as much for the Tea Party on the right as the 99 Percenters on the left (the corporate oligarchy actually has no Party affiliation, it just looks Republican).
Both groups should adopt this issue. The Occupiers need not agree on anything else, because frankly nothing else matters, and a bit more focus on the root of our problems for the Tea Party certainly wouldn’t hurt them either.
Let’s see who’s serious about representing the “people.”
And you know what?
We might be pleasantly surprised at how many congressmen and senators sign this thing who would rather be doing something more dignified with their lives than spending half their time begging for money.
Steven Van Zandt is a record producer, aongwriter, musician and Sopranos cast member.