Saturday, July 12, 2014

Rational Ideas Based on Coherent Thinking Can Beat Back Big Money

Keep an Eye Focused


“The voice of the wealthy is the voice that is most clearly heard by politicians.”  — Bill Cavanaugh

Introduction: The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that more than $6 billion was spent on the 2012 elections. That’s a lot of money in American politics. That figure only includes election  campaigns expenses – it doesn’t include funds spent on lobbying or advocacy. More on this can be seen here.

To add to the enormity of the challenge, in 2010 the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v.
Federal Election Commission that corporations and unions enjoy the same free speech rights that
individual human persons have, and can therefore spend freely on direct political advocacy.

These developments have raised the stakes on the national conversation about the role of
money in politics. Americans of faith and moral commitment have a critical role to play
in this national conversation. At their best, leaders of faith and moral commitment can avoid
partisanship and instead tackle the subject of money in politics from the perspectives of right
and wrong, of what is morally sound, and of what will strengthen American democracy.

With all the new strategies employed in today’s elections – Super PAC’s, social media strategies,
campaign Ads masquerading as documentary films, and even astro-turfing – it is easy to forget
that the challenge of money in politics is actually an ancient problem. The challenge of money
in politics has been around at least as long as ancient works like the Bible, and probably since
the dawn of agriculture and cities.

And, here we are today, and even on this scale this story from Colorado makes me feel good about what I've preached about for years — that is the massive amounts of big money looking and trying to buy the system for their own narrow agenda and not necessarily for the general public’s good. 

The lesson here is a simple one: When we stand against big money like this story illustrates, we are on the right track, and being right is always the best course of action in the long run, no matter how long it takes. In short, there is not substitute for being right.

The story: Val Flores — a long-time educator with 43 years of experience in public education — won in the Democratic primary for the Colorado State Board of Education District 1 seat recently, despite running against a candidate who raised more money and received corporate endorsements than she did.

Flores said: “We have a large amount of work to do to bring our public school system up to the levels of excellence necessary for the twenty first century. We can get there by studying and applying the best practices available, by including our communities in the conversation about the education process, and by holding true to the values of a free public education system for all.”

Ms. Flores ran against Taggert Hansen, a candidate endorsed by so-called “education reformers” who have been pushing for policies that undermine public schools for years. Hansen received significant contributions from Education Reform Now, an organization funded by the Walton Family Foundation (Walmart folks) who happens to be one of many corporations funding legislative efforts to privatize education. 

You will note that the board of directors primarily is made up of former “capital management” types … that ought to tell you something … it’s the money and not the kids as their bottom line despite what they say otherwise. I think Val Flores saw that, too, and her message resonated with the voters and that's why she won.

My suggestion on this aspect of story is simple for anyone who agrees with me on this subject: 

Stop shopping and making the Waltons richer than they already are. The three primary Walton family members are Jim, Rob, and Alice and they are worth $152 billion by the most-recent reporting and now they are working to undermine public education by privatizing public schools. Keep that in mind the next time you shop at your local Walmart. 

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