Corporate Corruption of the Political Process

I think it is important to understand a couple of things when addressing the problem of corporate control of the political process:

1. It takes some thought to understand the totality of corporate control over our elective process, made worse by the Supreme Court's "rearranging" of the First Amendment to confer unlimited "free speech," i.e. legalized purchase of elections, on corporations. [See also: www.homeownersoftexas.org/Supreme-Court-rejects-limits-on-corporate-spending-on-political-campaigns.html.]

2. Any notion that honest associations, such as the ACLU, can out-raise and outspend the combined force of corporations, acting through its many front groups, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ( $ 144 M last year), is not based on reality. Corporations outspent labor and all its allied associations by a factor of 10-1, according to the last figures I saw.

3. It is hard for small businesses to understand that they are pawns, as are individuals. The frustration of small business people is not caused by "the Government" or "Obama" or "Liberals" – it is caused by the greed and animalistic competition from big business entities. Illustration: How many independently owned gas stations still exist in this country?  Very few, if any. How can a small paint contractor compete with the large homebuilders, using immigrant labor at bargain basement prices? They can't.

4. So where is the logjam in our current "system of government"? By controlling most elections and most re-elections thru vast amount of money, big business blocks most efforts to impose reasonable protections for the citizens. Example: We currently have a $75 M cap on suits against oil companies, imposed as "Tort Reform". The current Attorney General of Texas, Greg Abbott, received over $2M in contribution from the oil industry in the last four years. How much effort will he give us if Texas gets hit by the BP oil disaster?  Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, the largest political contributor in Texas, has given over $21M in the last few years to the Governor, Attorney General, all but 6 Legislators, and all nine Texas Supreme Court justices, successfully preventing the licensing of builders and regulation of homebuilding in Texas.

5. Based upon this scenario, it has become clear that the only way to break the logjam is by Constitutional Amendment. This will be hard because Congress controls the amendment process. To prevail, the public must be educated and aroused; influential groups and leaders must sign off on this effort; as I see it, only a unified movement can effect this change of attitude; this takes time and effort but, it can be done.

The right to equal protection and the right to vote for citizens of color came by amendment to the Constitution, after a Civil War fought over that issue, in 1870; women's right to vote came by amendment only in 1920; the poll tax was repealed by amendment in 1964 and the right of young people to vote at age 18 came only recently, in 1971. As they did before, as to each great issue, the naysayers will say that our proposal to reboot Democracy cannot be done. I for one don't know how long it will take but I say that it can. The alternative is unthinkable.

Guest article by Lou McCreary, attorney, Law Office of Lou McCreary, Austin, TX

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