William Crandell: Politics quickly becoming game only wealthy can play

Published 4:59 pm Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Democratic Voice

By William Crandell

At a Jan. 15 Tea Party event in Warren Republican State Sen. Patrick Colbeck openly admitted that Dick Devos the CEO of the Amway Corporation had bank rolled the passage of the Right to Work Bill. For most political pundits here in Michigan this came as no big surprise but it did provide proof of the fact that the Michigan GOP have allowed their positions on many issues to be purchased by the highest bidder and were willing to cast their vote for the interests of those who gave them campaign contributions over doing what is right for this state.
There has always been an element of our society that feel they can buy anything they desire, including our government, and with the 2010 Citizens United ruling they are now able to do so without consequence. The ruling allowed for corporations and special interest groups that included foreign entities to spend money to fulfill their political agendas without any limits. Super PACs now rule the day here in America and pollute our airways with negative ads full of half truths and innuendos designed to destroy political campaigns that may interfere with their profit inspired agendas. The playing field is no longer level and the little guy is stuck praying that he’s being forced fed the truth and that his vote still counts. It’s now all about how much money you could throw around and politics is quickly becoming a game only the wealthy can play.
In the last election as much as an additional billion dollars was poured into campaigns from corporations and wealthy donors and it was the most profit-fueled election in our nation’s history. Al Gore recently stated this about the Citizens United ruling:
“Politicians now spend more time begging for money from wealthy individuals and special interests groups and worrying about the affects that their speeches and their public stances on the issues will have on these big donors than on their constituents and the little guy no longer matters. They now have to get permission on how to vote on an issue from these big donors if they want to get re-elected and not have to face a heavily financed primary challenge full of negative attack ads. It’s the reason nothing is getting done in Washington and we have to change that if we want to effectively deal with the big issues this country is currently facing.”
Another great example of the devastating effect that Citizens United has had on our government and its ability to do their job because of outside interests is the recent gun control debate. Both Republicans and Democrats feel that something needs to be done, but both sides of the aisle fear the NRA so much that they are unwilling to vote their conscience or even take a public stance. Too many of them are not interested in doing what’s right but in what will get them reelected. Once again, action needs to be taken and legislation needs to be passed, but the discussion will be bogged down while it’s being decided what’s in the best interest of corporate America.
It’s always been suspected that Devos threw around money to get the Right to Work bill passed and that he bankrolled a campaign to destroy Prop 2 and keep Michigan’s labor unions under constant attack. It is also well known that he threatened state politicians that if they didn’t vote to support RTW and were not onboard with his assault on unions and the middle class that he would withhold campaign contributions and support primary challengers against those who stood up to him. Thanks to Senator Colbeck we now know the truth and apparently they are not even going to try and hide their corruption anymore.
I think the most troubling aspect of the Citizens United ruling is that in order to be elected you have to completely sell out to the wealthy, the special interests and the Super PACs. That last thing any political hopeful wants these days is to be labeled as someone who is not a “team player” and have to face millions of dollars being spent on negative ads and primary challengers that are willing to be bought. But the really sad thing is that these companies hide behind the American flag labeling unfettered capitalism as the American way and ignoring the people who get hurt by their brazen greed. In my opinion Citizens United is completely un-American and brings out the worst in this country. To me, America has always been about a level playing field where anybody could do anything if they worked hard enough. I guess those days are over.