There is a restlessness in voters this year that will once again turn out an anti-Washington, anti-incumbent electorate. That really isn’t unusual anymore in American politics since both major political parties portray themselves as being Washington outsiders and anti-establishment. One party is always in power and the other one trying to get back in power.
This message strikes a chord in Americans who see their “independence” being expressed through constantly morphing anti-establishment candidates . The reality is Washington stays the same the more candidates ride a wave of change to office. The constant anti-establishment “we’re the party for change” appeal keeps things pretty unchanged and unchangeable. We are constantly balancing back and forth between the Democrats who are now in power, and the Republicans who were in power before and are returning again. Both parties are the object of our scorn and beneficiaries of our votes. Both sides appeal to change thus perpetuating the system. It’s a Sudoku puzzle with only two squares and you can only put a one or two in each of the boxes and no number can be used twice; the solution is logical but not too hard to figure out why so many find it uninteresting.
This year, thanks to the Supreme Court’s opening the floodgates of corporate spending on political advertisements, more “independent” corporations are paying for political ads to flood the airwaves thus effectively jamming any ability for reasoned discourse on important issues. Consider NPR’s recent piece, ‘Independent’ Groups Behind Ads Not So Independent which aired this morning. Countless groups who are investing fortunes in political advertizing under the deceptive guise of being grassroots, local, non-partisan and independent are in fact Washington lobby groups, often funded by the few ideologues who want their particular views broadcast to America. It is not government of, by and for the people, but rather government for, by and of the few who have the means to pay or the financial backers willing to pay for them.
These groups are all Washington insiders who don’t just play the game of Washington insider politics, they’ve manufactured it and sold it to the public at great profit to themselves and their causes as they get politicians to pay attention to their money and power.
As long as we pay attention to these ads, we pay the price for the American system of campaign funding: money talks and more money talks more often and more loudly.
A real anti-Washington electorate is one not listening to well financed Washington based lobby groups. The only thing we should pay attention to is what issues and candidates these groups endorse and support because we will then know who the real Washington insiders and powers are. Follow the money; the power behind the political parties and the candidates will be revealed. If the NPR story is correct, it will be the real Washington insiders who are paying to keep the system just the way it is because they know how to win the political game they invented and sold to the public.
This is not to say that all those running for office are simply paid for by corporate sponsors and lobby groups. No doubt candidates believe in some of the causes they champion, and some find themselves stuck in a campaign financing system that encourages these abuses. Some probably have concluded they have to play the game as the only way to accomplish their goals. For me, the real anti-Washington fervor should be directed at the ways people with money and ideologues can manipulate the system and the politicians.
Angry voters should demand the system be reformed, so that we quit having to pay the price of well funded lobby and special interest groups making us pay for the system they have manufactured and continue to perpetuate. A real fight is to take away government of, by and for the corporations and lobby groups, and to return it to the people. Will this be easy to accomplish? No, because there is an awful lot invested in the current way of doing things.