We have a crisis in our country. Our democracy has been co-opted by the rich, who have bought our government. Congress now serves the interests of wealthy financial backers and not those of the people. This moment in time was predicted as far back as 200 years ago, with warnings sounded over time by many individuals, some of whom are quoted in this blog. Our time has arrived. We the people must take back our democracy -- for ourselves, for our children, and for all who come after us.
Friday, August 12, 2011
We Must Drive Big Money Out of Politics!
Fundamental Reasons Why We Must Do This To Save Our Democracy.
Words of Wisdom From Two Great Republican Presidents
Introduction.The thoughts expressed herein are a reflection of my personal interests and beliefs. They are the reason for this blog. We have a great country, but it is not as great a country as our forefathers envisioned. The problems that beset us today are not new. We have faced them and conquered them before. We must once again regain our democracy or forfeit it forever.
Popular Government Must Triumph."Our country -- this great Republic – means nothing unless it means the triumph of a real democracy, the triumph of popular government, and, in the long run, of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in him."
Promises Without Action Are Empty. “… words count for nothing except in so far as they represent acts. This is true everywhere; but, it should be truest of all in political life. A broken promise is bad enough in private life. It is worse in the field of politics. No man is worth his salt in public life who makes on the stump a pledge which he does not keep after election; and, if he makes such a pledge and does not keep it, hunt him out of public life."
“In our day it appears as the struggle of freemen to gain and hold the right of self-government as against the special interests, who twist the methods of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will."
Duty of Humankind. Theodore Roosevelt referred to Abraham Lincoln as “the man to whom we owe (the) most,” and cited a couple passages from The Great Emancipator:
"I hold that while man exists it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind."
Labor Is Superior To Capital. And again:
"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."
Special Interests Are Entitled To Justice ...”Now, this means that our government, National and State, must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests. Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, so now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit. We must drive the special interests out of politics. That is one of our tasks today."
… But Not To Political Power. “... every special interest is entitled to justice, but not … to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to representation in any public office. The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation.”
The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have called into being.”
Control of Corporate Political Activity. “There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done”.
“It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.”
Corporate Accountability. “I believe that the officers, and, especially, the directors, of corporations should be held personally responsible when any corporation breaks the law.”
Duty of Congress. “The duty of Congress is to provide a method by which the interest of the whole people shall be all that receives consideration."
Change Is Needed.“The prime need to is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which it is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise.”
“We grudge no man a fortune which represents his own power and sagacity, when exercised with entire regard to the welfare of his fellows. We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community.”
Government Intervention Required. “This, I know, implies a policy of a far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had, but I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary.
The Path To Ruin. “Those who oppose reform will do well to remember that ruin in its worst form is inevitable if our national life brings us nothing better than swollen fortunes for the few and the triumph in both politics and business of a sordid and selfish materialism.”
Government Responsiveness To The People.“If our political institutions were perfect, they would absolutely prevent the political domination of money in any part of our affairs. We need to make our political representatives more quickly and sensitively responsive to the people whose servants they are. More direct action by the people in their own affairs under proper safeguards is vitally necessary.”
Removal of Non-Responsive Representatives. “I believe that the prompt removal of unfaithful or incompetent public servants should be made easy and sure in whatever way experience shall show to be most expedient in any given class of cases.”
Government Should Serve People, Not Special Interests. “One of the fundamental necessities in a representative government such as ours is to make certain that the men to whom the people delegate their power shall serve the people by whom they are elected, and not the special interests.”
The Bottom Line. “The object of government is the welfare of the people. The material progress and prosperity of a nation are desirable chiefly so long as they lead to the moral and material welfare of all good citizens.”
The Moment Of Truth. Although I agree with and embrace all the statements made above, I cannot claim authorship of any one of them, Although we are at a time in history when these statements and observations are extremely appropriate, they weren't made in recent times, but they were made to address the same type of situation such as we now have. The people who made them were both Republicans who saw the same kinds of problems for our country that beset us again today. The bulk of the comments were made by Theodore Roosevelt, with a couple of additional comments from Abraham Lincoln. These are all extracted from a speech that Roosevelt delivered approximately 100 years ago. His message is just as pertinent today as it was back then. The full text of his speech can be found at http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=501.
It Is Time To Reclaim Our Democracy. The past has repeated itself inasmuch as big financial interests (private, corporate, and political) have once again wrested our democracy away from the people and usurped it for their own gains. Can we also repeat the past and rid ourselves of their stranglehold, thereby restoring democracy to its rightful place with the people of America? Our country's fate is in our hands. Coming Next:First, Let's Define Democracy.