I believe that most people in this nation agree there is too much money in politics. Robin Williams once said that “Politicians should wear sponsor jackets like Nascar drivers. Then we know who owns them.” So why aren’t people doing something about it?
The U.S. government is supposed to be a government for the people, by the people—regular people. When I think of “the people” I think of everyone, not just the upper-middle class that’s portrayed on television. I think of farmers, coal miners, housekeepers, mechanics, people with disabilities, unemployed people seeking work, fathers, mothers, grandparents. I think of the people who make rent or mortgage payments and grimace every time they check out at the grocery store. I think of people whose stomachs are in knots when they sign the loan papers for a new car. To me, “the people” is everyone out there doing everything they can just to survive in an economy not built for the rest of us. It’s the people who make up the majority of this nation, but that’s not who represents us in our government.
Very few people in Congress came from humble beginnings. Fewer still put the actual people of this nation first and foremost. Instead, they are lawyers, businessmen, businesswomen, people with connections and inflated egos, all out to further their name, their power, and their wealth. Perhaps that’s why it’s so easy for them to be bought; and that’s why our government is for Wall Street, by Wall Street.
Every major industry has millions invested in campaign contributions and lobbying efforts with guaranteed returns. They have created and joined their own unions, trade and industry associations that pool their money and efforts, creating public relations campaigns to win the public over while they wine and dine the politicians they purchase. There’s the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the US Oil and Gas Association, the American Bankers Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, the National Association of Realtors, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and even the International Association of Infant Food Manufacturers just to name a few. They have offices in the state capitals and in DC with lobbyists working full time making six-figure salaries, many of which are former congressional representatives who got voted out of office but still have all their contacts. Their job all day, every day, is to meet with congressional officials to push their own agenda, clearing the way toward more profit.
To make matters worse, all of our news media outlets—news channels, radio stations, and newspapers—are owned by large corporations who make their money selling advertising time to other corporations. They too have a vested interest in politics. When it comes to political campaign season, they wield a huge amount of power over what we see, hear, and read about when it comes to the different candidates. They own the government, the media, and they own our labor.
As George Carlin once said, “They got you by the balls man!”
This is the reason I don’t choose political parties. It is a tactic used to divide us based on our individual values. While we are labeling each other and bickering about the left or the right, they’re laughing at us all the way to the bank. The whole system is about the same thing—money. But every great once in a while, someone does manage to sneak into the system.
As I sit back and watch the current presidential race, I’m curious to see who the establishment is trying to get rid of. Naturally, they are going to want to get rid of the biggest threat to their systems of power and wealth. Right now, that looks to be Bernie Sanders. Both the Democratic party and the Republican party or, in other words, all the rich, bought out assholes who have been systematically screwing the working people for decades, are working hard to tear him down. The mainstream corporate media, and I mean just about every side of it, is right on board too, twisting things any which way they can to stop Sanders. Some are even trying to label him as the next version of Stalin, calling him a communist, a socialist, and whatever else they think will scare people into thinking he’ll turn the nation into another Cuba or Venezuela. That makes me wonder…if he’s pissing off so many wealthy people to get this much press against him, maybe he’s doing something right.
I believe the wealthy and powerful of this nation are running scared because Sanders refuses corporate donations, which means he isn’t under their control. He’s also not obscenely wealthy which means he doesn’t share their same attitudes. In fact, all of the money he is getting is coming from regular people, working people—people like you and me. And he’s not really a full-fledged Democrat. Sanders is the longest-running independent in Congress. It would make sense that he signed onto the Democratic party because that’s the only way you can get elected president in our two-party system. Republicans damn sure wouldn’t have him since they’re the ones behind Citizen’s United and putting money INTO politics.
I also got to checking his record. Sanders has been mostly on his own fighting for working people throughout his 28 years in Congress. He’s been out to fix the system and get money out of politics. If he seems angry, well, you try getting money out of politics for the last 28 years.
“Not only is our voice in government silenced by corporate money, it’s silenced every time we clock into work.”
Now, about the democratic socialist bit, or at least my take on it.
Right now I think we can all agree that Wall Street runs our economy and our government: powerful multi-national banks, multi-national corporations, and of course, their rich political friends like the Clintons, Obama, Mitch McConnell, Trump, the Bushes, and, well, the majority of our Congress. From what I’ve found, democratic socialists believe “that both the economy and government should be run democratically [by working people like you and me]—to meet public needs, not to make profits for the [wealthy] few.” So let’s put that into perspective.
WE THE PEOPLE do not have a voice in our government anymore, a government that is meant to help us, not the wealthy privileged few. Not only is our voice in government silenced by corporate money, it’s silenced every time we clock into work. We are also stuck paying interest to their banks, buying their food, paying for their products, going to their hospitals, buying their medicine, all so they can make profits. Meanwhile, we hope like Christ we can have enough free time and money at the end of the day to enjoy time with our families.
In countries like Denmark and Sweden, the governments are not as bought out and ran by big industry—regular people have more of a say. That’s what Sanders is shooting for—not Venezuela or Cuba. In Danish and Norse countries, people are paid better, they have a lot more paid days off from work, more sick leave, more maternity and paternity leave, more rights to speak up about safety, no one has to go into debt for medical expenses, their public school systems are better funded and more kids are given more opportunities to learn and go to university or trade school without going into debt for it. People in these countries are some of the happiest in the world, and I would even say they are freer than we are, because hey, they have more time away from work, more of a voice at work, and probably don’t owe half their income to doctors and hospitals.
These countries are more democratic and, being that they are run BY THE PEOPLE, they make sure the government funds are spent wisely and on things people actually need, which pushes them closer to the definition of socialism—but not all the way. The people make the choice, including how much tax they should pay and how much corporations should have to pay in taxes. The government really is the people. And yes, sometimes they have higher taxes, and no, nothing is ever perfect, but they get a lot more perks than we do, especially when it comes to health care and retirement.
Think about it this way, the average monthly premium for family health insurance in the US is $500 a month. That’s $250 taken out of your paycheck every two weeks. It might as well be taxes because it takes away from your net pay. A lot of people are paying much much more. I’ve looked at many jobs where I’d be making $30,000 a year but the insurance was $1200 a month for 70/30 insurance and a $3000 deductible. These days, a LOT of people are working just for insurance. And the lower your wages, the higher your insurance premiums typically are. Companies who don’t like to pay good wages also don’t like to pay for employee’s healthcare (like Wal-Mart).
Right now the median household income in the US is around $60,000 a year. Not where I come from, but let’s stick with it. At $60,000 a year, $500 a month is 10% of your monthly income. That’s like paying an additional 10% tax. For those paying $1000 a month, that’s a 20% tax. By the time you add that in with your federal and state income tax, dental and vision premiums, and any retirement deductions, you are looking at well over 55% of your income. Then, your still not out of the woods because when you go to the doctor, you are still responsible for the $3000 deductible and then the 70/30 after that. Now imagine working for $30,000 a year and paying $1000 a month. That’s 40% of your income just in insurance. Sure people in Denmark pay 55%, but they never have to worry about paying for healthcare. They also have better retirement and retirement healthcare.
I think we all agree it’s time for change—real change. Not “Obama” change, or Trump’s “Make America Great Again” change (my question is for who). We need actual change. We need to get the money out of politics and a president who will help reunite Americans to take back control like FDR did. I agree that Bernie Sanders won’t be able to get things passed in a Congress that is still bought out and working for Wall Street. I believe he knows that. I think that what he would do is use the office to help educate the nation about what’s wrong with our government and our economy which is exactly what he’s trying to do now. By keeping those problems at the forefront of public knowledge, people will hopefully start rooting out the greedy politicians in Congress and begin voting in more honest people that can’t be bought out. Once they are in, we can begin to get rid of the two party system, get rid of money on politicians, and actually make this country better for everyone. He can’t fix it himself, but together, over a few years, I think we all definitely can.