So it’s come to this: The ultra-rich, corporate PACs and special interest Super PACS are poised to drive 2016 federal election spending to $10 billion, while the only agency that polices campaign corruption levied precisely $135,813 in fines last year.
Five years after the U.S. Supreme Court formally sanctioned the purchase of elections (and 15 years after the Court executed the coup d’etat that installed George W. Bush as president), the plutocratic class has knocked out every tooth of the Federal Election Commission and now dominates the political process without restraint.
“The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim,” our old friend Ann Ravel, chair of the FEC, recently admitted.
An idealist disillusioned: Ravel went to Washington a few years ago after serving as the powerhouse leader of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. She is by far the most committed, trustworthy and principled political reformer we know, and her candid concession of powerlessness in the face of a preposterous torrent of campaign cash is simply heartbreaking.
So while Beltway media stenographers arrogantly sniff that “no one really cares” about the poisonous effect of the glut of money forked out by the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelsons and Norman Bramans of the world, the unarguable fact is that 90 percent of Americans – 90%, count ‘em, 90% — say D.C. politicians “are looking out for their own political interest (not the) the common interest.”
“The few rules that are left, people feel free to ignore,” longtime Democratic FEC commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub told the New York Times in a must-read piece certain to make your head explode.
Experts predict that the 2016 race could produce a record fund-raising haul of as much as $10 billion, with the growth fueled by well-financed outside groups. On their own, the conservative billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch have promised to spend $889 million through their political network.
Kissing up to kleptocrats: Democrats, to be sure, are out hustling a share of dark money – hello, Hillary Clinton. But the plain fact is that it was right-wingers on the Supreme Court who enabled the venal politics of 2016; it is Republican candidates and office-holders who benefit while kissing the
butts rings of their kleptocratic masters among the richest 1/1000th in the nation; and it is Republican members of the gridlocked FEC who ensure the game stays fixed.
With a straight face, Republican commissioner Caroline Hunter even asserted the puny and ever-shrinking sanctions handed out by the agency – last year’s inconsequential fines equal 0.0001% of the amount expected to be spent on 2016 campaigns – “could easily be read as a signal that people are following the law.”
Excuse us while we build a stadium big enough to hold our laughter.
Sorry Caroline, but our own experience, not to mention inbred common sense, confirms that the honorable and straight-talking Ann Ravel is the one telling it like it is here:
What’s really going on is that the Republican commissioners don’t want to enforce the law, except in the most obvious cases. The rules aren’t being followed, and that’s destructive to the political process.
The bottom line: So warped and unfairly weighted is the system, that it takes The Onion, with its recent Q&A on super Pacs, to describe its full absurdity.
Q: Isn’t it true that super PACs drown out the voices of everyday Americans with their narrow, self-serving messages, effectively crippling the democratic process and reinforcing a vicious cycle in which all politicians are beholden to multimillionaires and merely feign interest in the working and middle classes in a cynical attempt to clinch their election and advance the interests of the country’s moneyed elite, further dividing a crumbling nation already hopelessly mired in inequality?