Monday, October 05, 2009

Congressional Money Disarmament

On Thursday night, I went to a screening of Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story." I was already mad as hell about what's happened in and to our country. We, the people, no longer control our government. Instead, the big corporations have taken over and run amok.

On Friday night, I watched Real Time with Bill Maher, a show that has become the best forum for real discourse on what's happening in our world and to us. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), who was also featured (beautifully, I might add) in Mr. Moore's film, spoke the most poignant and telling lines in a show that was packed full of contenders. She said about
"the raw partisanship that characterizes national politics now...

"When Washington founded the country, he didn't believe in political parties. He said they would be very dangerous.

If you come inside Congress today, some of the raw partisanship, I believe, is directly related to the change in the way campaigns have been financed. And rather than political parties on the outside being involved and helping to promote candidacies, what's happened on the inside is that campaign committees are now formed by members themselves, and both parties are pitted against one another. It is a totally different Congress than when I first arrived there, when Tip O'Neill was Speaker.

Today, every member becomes a money center, and if you don't raise as much money as somebody else, you frankly don't get as far ahead, in terms of the institution. It is a great indictment of our country.

And the American people know this, they know we need money disarmament in the Congress, and we can't get there because neither side will take the first step.

We need Anwar Sadat, Menachim Begin and Jimmy Carter again... on campaign finance... and we don't have them! We need to try to reach accommodation.

In the last cycle for House and Senate, $250 million was raised; to elect the President this time, they spent nearly half a billion dollars, both parties! But inside the Congress, you have the DCCC and RCCC... People need to know about this because we've got to cleanse it, get it out!"

On Saturday night, I watched SNL, which opened with a bit featuring President Obama checking off the list of things he hasn't yet accomplished. It was sad in that so much of it was true.

Of course, the number one reason he hasn't accomplished any of the things on that list is money.

We need to stop kidding ourselves. We, the people, have lost the power to enact change. We voted overwhelmingly for change, and yet, here we are, just about a year after we stood in lines to CHANGE the way things are done. But what we've learned is that the more things supposedly change, the more they stay the same. If we've learned one thing from the lack of change since inauguration day, it's that WE MUST BE THE CHANGE WE WANT.

The Democrats now control both houses of Congress and the White House, yet the corporations still rule. That's because members of both parties are beholden to the special interests that contribute to their re-election coffers.

We must take money out of the equation. We must get off our asses and stop expecting our elected officials to do something about this. It MUST COME FROM US, or it will not happen.

At the end of "Capitalism: A Love Story," Michael Moore said he can't and won't do it alone. But he left it at that. He didn't give us any direction.

I think we must act, together, on a grassroots level, to enact wholesale changes in the way our leaders are elected. And that starts with putting real limitations on how those elections are financed. As long as big corporations and special interests keep financing campaigns, they'll continue calling the shots. It's as simple as that.

I pledge to you today that I will begin working overtime on this issue. I'll start by forming a Facebook group, Restore Democracy in the USA, which you can access here. Obviously, this is only a first baby step in trying to bring everyone concerned about this issue together. I may have started the group, but all should use it to post information, articles, thoughts, links and events. Especially events. We all must get involved.

Tonight on my Air America radio show, I'll speak with Dan Weeks, president of Americans for Campaign Reform ( He'll be with me live at 11:35pm ET/8:35 PT. If your local Air America affiliate doesn't carry the show, you can listen live by clicking here.

Dan and his group have been laying the ground work for this effort for years now. But obviously, they're not reaching a wide enough audience.

I'm hoping that we can all work together to spread the message and then act on it and make the change we voted for actually happen.