Former Labor Secretary Reich: Our Democracy is Being “Sold Down the Drain”
Robert Reich, who was the Secretary of Labor under the Clinton Administration, says that our democracy is being “sold down the drain” to large corporations that are giving unlimited secret donations in order to maintain political dominance. He says that Citizens United was one of the dumbest decisions made in the history of the Supreme Court, and that the greatest concentration of wealth in more than a century is tearing our country apart at its core. In an essay for the Huffington Post, Reich says the following:
Who’s buying our democracy? Wall Street financiers, the Koch brothers, and casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn.
And they’re doing much of it in secret.
Reich goes on to argue that we’ve hit the perfect storm in our economy – that wealth is controlled by the powerful few and that they are now able to use this wealth to buy elections in secret. The secrecy helps them to maintain the economic empires that they’ve built to get rich, in many cases leading unsuspecting consumers to purchase their products without knowing that they are supporting the objects of their political demise.
It’s a perfect storm:
The greatest concentration of wealth in more than a century — courtesy “trickle-down” economics, Reagan and Bush tax cuts, and the demise of organized labor.
Unlimited political contributions — courtesy of Republican-appointed Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy, in one of the dumbest decisions in Supreme Court history, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, along with lower-court rulings that have expanded it.
Complete secrecy about who’s contributing how much to whom — courtesy of a loophole in the tax laws that allows so-called non-profit “social welfare” organizations to accept the unlimited contributions for hard-hitting political ads.
Put them all together and our democracy is being sold down the drain.
Reich says that America would be a better country if wealth were distributed in a more equitable fashion. He says that then, more Americans would have the ability to influence politics. But even in the presence of such vast inequality, sufficient regulation of political contributions could help to ensure that everyone has a voice. He also says that many of his fellow Democrats are just as responsible for these matters as their Republican colleagues.
But we have an almost unprecedented concentration of wealth and unlimited political spending and secrecy.
I’m not letting Democrats off the hook. Democratic candidates are still too dependent on Wall Street casino moguls and real casino magnates (Steve Wynn has been a major contributor to Harry Reid, for example). George Soros and a few others have poured big bucks into Democratic coffers. So have a handful of trade unions.
But don’t be fooled. Compared to what the GOP is doing this year Democrats are conducting high-school bake sales. The mega-selling of American democracy is a Republican invention, and Romney and the GOP are its major beneficiaries.
Reich concludes his essay with an appeal. He says that Americans can make a difference by supporting the Disclose Act, which would require groups to disclose who is giving how much to various political groups. He encourages Americans to contact their senators in order to help with the cause. To read more of Reich’s remarks in their entirety, click here.
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