BILL MOYERS: (from 2012)
we need a serious new vision.
A radical minority of the superrich has gained ascendency over politics, buying the laws, tax breaks, subsidies, and rules that create a permanent state of vast inequality, by which they can further help themselves to America’s wealth and resources.
Their appetite for more is insatiable. As we write, Mitt Romney (along with the Oklahoma billionaire executive who chairs his campaign’s energy advisory committee), after two fundraisers in which he raised nearly $l0 million from the oil and gas industry, has announced that if elected president he will end a century of federal control over oil and gas drilling on public lands.
Theodore Roosevelt, the first great advocate for public lands in the White House, would be rolling in his grave, if Dick Cheney hadn’t already dumped his bones in a Wyoming mining shaft during the first hours of the Bush-Halliburton administration.
We are nearing the culmination of a cunning and fanatical drive to dismantle the political institutions, legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual and cultural frameworks that were slowly and painstakingly built over decades to protect everyday citizens from the excesses of private power. The “city on the hill” has become a fortress of privilege, guarded by a hired political class and safely separated from the economic devastations it has created.
Socrates said to understand a thing, you must first name it. As in Athens then, so in America now: The name for what’s happening to our political system is corruption — a deep, systemic corruption.
Let’s begin with the Supreme Court, back in the l880s breathing life into an artificial creation called “the corporation.” An entity with no body, soul, sense, or mortality was endowed with all the rights of a living, breathing “person”. Closer to our own time, the Supreme Court of 1976 in Buckley vs. Valeo ruled that wealthy individuals could spend unlimited amounts of their own fortunes to get themselves elected to office, and that anyone could pour dollars by the hundreds of thousands into the war chests of political action committees. Money, the justices declared in another burst of invention, was simply a form of speech.
Meaningful oversight of campaign expenditure, necessary if representative government is to have a fair chance against rapacious wealth, was swept away.
The re-election of every Member of Congress today is now at the mercy of corporate barons and private princes who can make or destroy a candidacy by giving to those who vote “right,” or lavishing funds on opponents of those who don’t.
Senator John McCain knows. he describes our elections as nothing less than “an influence-peddling scheme in which both parties compete to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder.”
For the ultimate absurdity of money’s role, we must look to another group of happy billionaires, the corporate owners of the television stations. In one of the great perversions of the Constitution foisted on its subjects by their overlords, the public airwaves where free speech should reign have become private enclosures to which access must be bought. Free? It’s about as free as Tiffany pearls.
And in the foul air of democracy, the household stability and income mobility of everyday Americans has been upended. the middle class falls behind and the poor sink deeper from sight as political donations determine the course and speech of policies.
it’s a Catch-22. To fight the power of private money, it is first necessary to get elected. To get elected it is necessary to raise astronomical amounts of private money from people who expect obedience in return.
where is the outrage at this corruption? well, it’s partly smoothed away by a corporate media with every regard for the public’s thirst for distractions and none for its need to know.