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!”

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Mike Peters | Grimm.com

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.

6 Comments

  1. Bernie’s making impossible Day One promises, he owns three properties and has made over $4M during his long career in Congress. For all his rhetoric, his integrity is hopelessly compromised by those inconvenient facts, and his inability to separate himself from a junior Congressional rep who spends $200 on salon appointments when she’s not disparaging wealth inequality, exposing her ignorance of U.S. history or crying about how she has over $40k of student debt in a job that pays over $100k/year.

    Those are major roadblocks to my support, no matter how much he pretends to buck the system in which he’s made a fortune.

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    1. There is a slight problem with your argument. If he was a straight-up socialist then your argument would hold water. But he’s a democratic socialist, not a socialist or a communist. He believes, probably just like you do, that if someone works hard and does well, they can obtain and have wealth. He wrote best selling books and has won multiple elections (without corporate campaign funds and backdoor deals) to be in office for 28 years which pays $170,000 a year.

      What he is saying is that other people are becoming hyper-wealthy using and abusing American and foreign workers and by manipulating the government through methods of political corruption. He is saying that working people are not being treated fairly and deserve more rights than what they are being given. As a democratic socialist, he believes, as was stated, that government should be run by the people, they should decide how taxes are distributed, that everyone should have access to healthcare and that everyone should have a fair say in deciding policy, not just the politicians who have been bribed with campaign contributions and lobbying efforts.

      I hope you’re not being envious of someone who actually did earn their money without using other people’s labor and taking advantage of a broken system, and is one of the very few politicians who actually uses the office and the salary it pays to unrig the system, get money out of politics, and make things fairer for everyone. If anything, I think that gives him more integrity.

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  2. I agreed with you until you starting heaping praise on Sanders the Socialist. He is a Socialist! You hear is campaign speeches? Once it was millionaire and billionaires should not exist and were evil. Then he became a millionaire with 3 houses! So only billionaires are evil. He wants free everything! My God he would tax us all into poverty. Free education, free healthcare, green new deal, open bordrs, etc. I hate to break it to you but professors wont work for free neither will doctors and nurses. He loves Cuba! Run by a ruthless dictator. Bernie aint the answer. He can move anywhere he wants, just leave the rest of us alone. And we do have a say in the system. We vote for leaders. Dont like the way things are, then run for office. If enough people agree with you, you can win.

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    1. I’ll tell you the same thing I just told Mr Gray above.

      There is a slight problem with your argument. If he was a straight-up socialist then your argument would hold water. But he’s a democratic socialist, not a socialist or a communist. He believes, probably just like you do, that if someone works hard and does well, they can obtain and have wealth. He wrote best selling books and has won multiple elections (without corporate campaign funds and backdoor deals) to be in office for 28 years which pays $170,000 a year.

      What he is saying is that other people are becoming hyper-wealthy using and abusing American and foreign workers and by manipulating the government through methods of political corruption. He is saying that working people are not being treated fairly and deserve more rights than what they are being given. As a democratic socialist, he believes, as was stated, that government should be run by the people, they should decide how taxes are distributed, that everyone should have access to healthcare and that everyone should have a fair say in deciding policy, not just the politicians who have been bribed with campaign contributions and lobbying efforts. The keyword here is “democracy,” actual democracy where people are given more opportunity to participate in the government process.

      Is this something you are afraid of? Are you afraid of everyone being given a voice and the ability to better decide public policy? If so, what you may be afraid of is a country, and the people in it, who are not the same as you and want to do things differently than you would want them. If that is the case, then maybe you are in the wrong country and should start your own dictatorship somewhere and run the country exactly as you would want it to be run.

      I believe, like Mr. Gray, your attack is more so being envious of someone who actually did earn their money without using other people’s labor and taking advantage of a broken system, and is one of the very few politicians who actually uses the office and the salary it pays to unrig the system, get money out of politics, and make things fairer for everyone. If anything, I think that gives him more integrity.

      And yes, professors and doctors and nurses have to be paid. The problem is the institutions and administrations who are driving the costs up on other things to make profits or give themselves more pay than they need. Just like the asshole pharmaceutical company owner who increased the price of EPI pens 700%, hospitals, healthcare providers, and insurance companies are netting huge profits off of the system. What if those profits went back into the actual healthcare rather than being siphoned off into people’s bank accounts so they can have multimillion-dollar homes? Doctors could still be paid well, hospitals could still be run. The same goes for universities which has a lot of money spent on $3,000,000 coaches for football and basketball teams. Those are often the highest-paid state employees in just about every state. You could pay several doctors and professors six-figure salaries with what one guy makes having a bunch of students play games. That’s some bullshit right there.

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  3. Nick, thanks for laying out very explicitly and thoughtfully, how the reality of the whole system has been and is still being run. Some people are so focused on the negatives about Bernie that they have been fed from corporate media, and therefore are not able or refuse to open their minds to consider another way of thinking about things. This is definitely too bad.

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