On Labor Day, 1903, President Teddy Roosevelt said: “The death-knell of the republic had rung as soon as the active power became lodged in the hands of those who sought, not to do justice to all citizens, rich and poor alike, but to stand for one special class and for its interests as opposed to the interests of others.”
President Roosevelt fought hard to break up monopolies and extend the powers of democracy to every American as did his nephew, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the 1930’s and 40’s. Unfortunately, many of their victories in making America a more equitable society have been rolled back over the last 40 years.
The recent “Citizens United” decision by the Supreme Court to allow corporations and super pacs to contribute unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns has been a slap in the face to both Roosevelts and to every other American who wants his vote to count and wants the politicians he or she elects to represent their interests rather than just that of the corporations who finance the multi-million dollar campaigns for Congress, the Senate, and state elections.
Right now, your congressmen and U.S. senators spend 1/3rd to 1/2 of their time raising money from lobbyists and corporate interests to fund their election campaigns. That is time they should be spending representing you, not just the corporations. This massive funding comes with strings attached and who do you think holds the strings? I don’t blame the politicians, it is the way the game must be played nowadays since we allow private money to finance campaigns and somehow think that is freedom. Its been sardonically said that “America has the best democracy money can buy”, but that is not a real democracy. It is a sham owned and operated by the corporatocracy.
John Perkins, in his book “HOODWINKED”, writes: “We sometimes forget that the American Revolution was a rebellion against corporate abuses that were enforced by the King of England. After gaining independence, the new government granted charters only to companies that served the public interest by expanding ports, building bridges, and importing goods demanded in the marketplace. The duration of the charter was limited to as few as 10 years, or until the task for which the company had been formed was completed, and no company was allowed to purchase another.” The corporations were in no way regarded as citizens.
Our forefathers did not value “freedom” as the right to cheat, rob and poison your fellow citizens for profit, yet that is what is happening in our so-called free market which has been increasingly deregulated to make more money on Wall Street and the hell with the rest of us.
We need to free our representatives from the obligations they owe private contributors. We need our politicians to work for us. That’s one reason we pay taxes and pay them good salaries. We, you and me, are supposed to be their bosses, not some corporation which possibly doesn’t pay any taxes because it is headquartered overseas, but likes to win big government contracts funded by our taxes. We need to have our representatives — Nick, Lisa, and Don — stick their necks out and repeal “Citizens United” and, if they do, we must stand behind them.
• Hebert is a Juneau resident.