It seems that we are going through another cycle of history. With unlimited amounts of money being injected into politics, this could be one of the most important events of this decade, and possibly future decades, if rational minds cannot expose what is happening. Getting the big money out of the elections including those associated with both the democratic and republican parties will only bring a more pure democracy.
Remembering what Abraham Lincoln said, “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”, I find this one quote from the Gettysburg Address explains what real democracy can be. Not the power that wealth brings with astronomical donations of money and television ads from all the special interests groups, but the power of each individual voter.
Doesn’t a corporation include just single individuals from the top to the bottom? Will each person vote exactly the same within that organization? I wonder how an organization can be considered one voice for every single person working for that organization. If each one of these special interests organizations is allowed to spend unlimited money on elections, then where does each individual stand with their own ability to raise money for their candidate?
Why should my vote depend on how much money I have? This is not rational to me. So this government of the people, by the people, for the people, that we pride ourselves in for its actual realization of a truly free nation, is dictated by money in its elections to control the message. The message that I am hearing from the media is only partisan politics and I don’t want to believe the rhetoric from both sides anymore. I just want the facts and the message should be the truth and not bought like some commodity on the stock exchange as we see today with the meteoric rise of negative attack ads paid for on television.
In this system of elections today, I can donate, let’s say, $100. I would feel good that I contributed to my party but then I hear about one large group contributing millions of dollars to the other party. Would that be a waste of my money? I don’t have a lot to give and there is recession going on too. I guess I will have to trust that some group that favors my ideas about bringing jobs back to the United States will donate to my cause. What’s this? The corporations, who have the most wealth, can invest unlimited amounts of money in the elections. What about my vote? My vote counts as much as a Wall Street banker CEO.
Watching the television, there have been so many despicable and appalling political commercials aired in the past elections. Some were telling me how one of the candidates was “Taliban Dan” and another was saying that she was not a witch. Is this informing the electorate or entertaining them?
Oftentimes I see that people begin to believe these commercials and I consider the millions of dollars being spent on them. I finally understand that my voice isn’t being heard. People’s minds are being made up, not by looking at what the candidates stand for but for what the commercials are telling them about the opposing candidates. The discourse is not civil and is just too exhausting to want to dwell on such negative things.
It is easy to understand why so many people have lost their enthusiasm for the elections and choose not to vote at all.
We have seen before how big business went against the majority of Americans for financial gains in the past. Here is an excerpt explaining Teddy Roosevelt’s fight against Big Business Trusts from U.S. History.org:
He believed Wall Street financiers and powerful trust titans to be acting foolishly. While they were eating off fancy china on mahogany tables in marble dining rooms, the masses were roughing it. There seemed to be no limit to greed. If docking wages would increase profits, it was done. If higher railroad rates put more gold in their coffers, it was done. How much was enough, Roosevelt wondered?
Teddy Roosevelt used the Sherman Antitrust Act, which was passed in 1890, to help with his fight against trusts. For twelve years, the Sherman Act was not effective because the United States courts routinely sided with business. For example, in an 1895 ruling, the Supreme Court refused to dissolve the American Sugar Refining Company that controlled 98 percent of the sugar industry, which allowed them to maintain their monopoly.
In fact, the only time the Sherman Act was used was when the court ruled against a trade union that it said was causing a restraint of trade.
Roosevelt decided to go against one of the biggest industrialist of the time, J.P. Morgan. Morgan owned a railroad company known as Northern Securities that controlled the bulk of railroad shipping across the northern United States.
When Morgan and Roosevelt met after the notification of the court case, Morgan decried that he was being treated like a common criminal. Roosevelt stood up to Morgan and declared that no compromise would be found and that the matter could only be settled by the courts. U.S. History.org continues:
This was the core of Theodore Roosevelt’s leadership. He boiled everything down to a case of right versus wrong and good versus bad. If a trust controlled an entire industry but provided good service at reasonable rates, it was a “good” trust to be left alone. Only the “bad” trusts that jacked up rates and exploited consumers would come under attack. Who would decide the difference between right and wrong? The occupant of the White House trusted only himself to make this decision in the interests of the people.
On December 2nd, 1902, Teddy Roosevelt declared in his State of the Union address:
“Our aim is not to do away with corporations; on the contrary, these big aggregations are an inevitable development of modern industrialism, and the effort to destroy them would be futile unless accomplished in ways that would work the utmost mischief to the entire body politic. We can do nothing of good in the way of regulating and supervising these corporations until we fix clearly in our minds that we are not attacking the corporations, but endeavoring to do away with any evil in them. We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to subserve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth.”
We have a progressive President in office but it seems no one is remembering our own history today about a time when corporations went unchecked. It is just as pertinent today as it was then. The American dream is for all us and not just those that can purchase the agenda of the country. They want everyone to lose interest in the elections and not vote. Then while the rational people don’t vote, they can get radical fringe groups out to the polls by pandering to them in the campaign ads but we, the rational majority, will finally have to stand up and see what is happening.
Eventually, the corruption in elections will get so bad that change will occur again and election reform will happen. The question is how long? Will it be this decade, the next decade or generations? I can only hope and believe that the government of the people, by the people, for the people will remember and believe it is their single vote that matters and not the money that makes a true democracy.
- Remembering the 1912 Presidential Election (history.com)
- Who Are You Voting for in ’12? On These Discs, Wilson, Taft, and Roosevelt Want Your Vote! (aarp.org)
- A little history – Theodore Roosevelt (johncashon.wordpress.com)
- The Time Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football (mentalfloss.com)