The Banana Republic and Baby Boomers

The rampant corruption of our political system is masterfully distilled by Lawrence Lessig to the barest elements in this video.

 

America truly has become a Banana Republic operated by and for the benefit of the rich.

We let that happen.

And, when I say ‘we’, I’m looking at you, fellow Baby Boomers. We did this, and now it’s up to us to fix our screw-ups.

It’s time for some of you to change the way you think and how you vote; otherwise, I don’t know how you’re going to look future generations in the eye and tell them, “I was thinking of you when I voted for corporatists, banksters, and wealthy elites.”

It’s time for you to stop voting against your own – and our collective – self-interests. It’s time to stop electing the liars who tell us that trickle down economics works, that government needs to shrink, that defense spending needs to increase, that we need to drill and dig more for our energy, and that corporations and banks must be allowed to do whatever they like without regulation and oversight because to do otherwise would hurt their (historically high) share values and profits as if that were the only measure of a vibrant, thriving, sustainable, and inclusive economy and society.

It’s on all of us, but it’s mostly on you Baby Boomers who somehow turned into 21st century conservatives who reject science, facts, your social responsibilities, and any compassion you may have once had for your fellow human beings and the planet we all live on.

To my fellow liberals, you’re almost as much to blame as conservatives. Enough already with the pandering and compromise; enough with the disengagement from politics and silence on critically important issues; enough with not calling your representatives and not calling people out for being wrong and wrong-headed; most of all, enough with staying home on election day.

There are more of us than there are of them. We can move this country back to the left if we get off our asses and do something – anything – to affect change.

Which brings me to this. A reality too many of my fellow liberals refuse to accept.

It is ‘Us’ versus ‘Them.’ It’s time we stopped pretending it’s not.

When you refuse to acknowledge that conservatives hold values, beliefs, and policy positions that only hurt society and which block any possibility for progress, then you have surrendered the fight. We must be ready, willing, and eager to make the distinctions and reinforce everything that distinguishes Us from Them.

We need to stop wasting precious time and energy by going into every issue and every debate thinking there’s some sort of mythical middle ground. That’s the naive and juvenile fantasy that has allowed our society to devolve. Conservatives know there is no middle ground, and they know they can get liberals to keep giving ground because that’s what liberals do. They compromise.

That’s why we have to take our measure of blame for the world we live in; a world where to be a conservative and a member of the Republican party has come to mean that you want to live in a Christian theocracy in which corporations operate with impunity while the state discriminates against women, minorities, LGBTQ, and immigrants…..and that seems not only normal but desirable to conservatives

We liberals have allowed conservatives to keep moving whatever middle used to exist farther and farther to the right. Hasn’t it gone far enough?

We liberals let the center move so far to the right because we either stayed silent or we compromised. We’ve always been the ones to compromise. That must stop, and it must stop now.

No more compromises with the right. You liberals who insist on compromise are the ones who now are actually allowing conservatives to go on ruining this country and what was once a great society. Not one without its flaws, but at least one in which the wealth and power gaps were not as obscene as they are now and not one in which it seems perfectly reasonable to some people that the likes of Trump and Carson are taken seriously as presidential candidates.

It’s time for my fellow liberals to quit being such pansies and push-overs. It’s time you started fighting – not physically, but intellectually and politically, in the public square, on social media, and out loud. It’s a fight for the future, and it’s time to fight like there is no tomorrow because unless we fight and win, conservatives and conservatism in its current form most assuredly will keep us from bequeathing any sort of bright and peaceful tomorrow to future generations.

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The Tea Party and Move On: Finding Common Ground? No, Not Where It Matters

This was an interesting conversation. (The audio kicks in correctly at 1:30, so be patient)

First, I applaud the idea of not losing sight of the fact that we’re all human beings. As National Tea Party Patriots co-founder and Citizens for Self Governance founder, Mark Meckler, points out toward the end of the conversation, we shouldn’t objectify each other. I agree, and I humbly admit that I need to keep reminding myself about that.

He and Joan Blades, the co-founder of MoveOn and MomsRising.org, say they agree that there’s common ground on the PROBLEM of crony capitalism.

Unfortunately, it seems that we can add the SOLUTION of campaign finance reform to the list of things that are NOT common ground.

If you don’t want to listen to the whole discussion, go to the 38:50 mark. Listen to the question asked plus the one that follows. Listen to what Meckler says in response to both.

He says that he, like Lawrence Lessig, wants an Article V convention to amend the Constitution. He says he wants it, however, for completely different reasons than Lessig.

Meckler blames crony capitalism not on the people, corporations, and organizations buying our government today. He blames it on the size of government. He posits that private money is basically being driven by self-interest. He says they are motivated to corrupt government because government is so big and so ubiquitous that private money can hardly be blamed for wanting to influence it. This becomes especially apparent when the conversation turns to his belief in the “rational actor theory” and to a basic investment and business principle: return on investment.

He says (and I’m paraphrasing) that if we just shrink government – and I assume he means primarily the federal government – that we’ll see less corruption because the incentives for big money interests to funnel millions and even billions of dollars into the coffers of our elected officials will be diminished because the returns will be smaller.

This sounds to me like he’s exonerating Big Money. He seems to be saying that the government is just too big and too tempting a place not to “invest” in because the returns from those investments are just too attractive to resist.

That is a stunning position to take. It strikes me as blaming the victim instead of the criminal, and it reveals how Meckler presumably distinguishes between right and wrong.

Meckler also says that reforming campaign finance laws is futile. He says the money will just go further underground. So like David Brooks, Meckler doesn’t see the need to reform our campaign finance laws. And while he doesn’t make the distinction, one must conclude that Meckler thinks it’s futile regardless of the size of government.

Which brings me to the question I struggle with endlessly when it comes to finding common ground.

It’s what I call “the morning after” quandary. Now that we have common ground on the PROBLEM, what about the SOLUTION?

Let’s assume for a minute that everyone agrees that crony capitalism is a problem – the problem – that needs to be solved. Great. We now have common ground from which to work.

Now let’s assume we agree that the required action is to get 2/3 of the states to call for an Article V convention to amend the Constitution. We’re not at the solution yet, mind you, but we’ve agreed on an action.

Now here’s where principles, purposes, and goals begin to diverge.

People like Lawrence Lessig (and Move To Amend, Wolf-PAC, I, and lots of others) want to amend the Constitution to reverse Citizens United and McCutcheon in order to get big money and its corrupting influence out of government no matter the size of government.

Lessig (along with Represent.Us and lots of us) also want to significantly reform campaign finance laws through legislation like the American Anti-Corruption Act.

Mark Meckler disagrees. He says so himself.

So, we all work together to get to an Article V convention only to find ourselves in opposition as to what amendments are needed. Some of us want to take the corrupting money out of government, while others want to shrink government and its role in overseeing and regulating how that money is made.

It’s the morning after.

How am I supposed to consider Meckler an ally if we’re this far apart? Hasn’t there been enough conversation and debate yet to come to conclusions with certainty on both the problems and the solutions?

Meckler disagrees with Lessig. That’s his prerogative. Perhaps the question to ask is, “Which of them knows more about the fundamentals of the problems and which one of them has the solutions that will benefit the most Americans?”

They both can’t be right when they’re this far apart.

Joan Blades deserves only our admiration and respect for her approach and her work. She’s an inspiration. But, I’m getting more than a little tired of the left always being the ones who must listen and who must keep moving to the right just to try to find some kind of center or common ground. It’s time for the right to move to their left.

Bernie Sanders recently reminded us about just how radical the right and the GOP have become since the days when Charles Koch was a Libertarian vice presidential candidate who criticized Ronald Reagan for being too liberal. The dangerous ideas and ideology espoused back then have evolved into mainstream conservative and Republican dogma.

Meckler strikes me as simply a kinder, gentler face on it, and I hope people will see and understand that.

Agreeing on the problem is great, but it isn’t enough. There also has to be agreement on how to solve the problem; otherwise, the cure could easily end up being worse than the disease.

As for open dialog and civility, I’d be glad to have a living room conversation with Mark Meckler. He seems from the video to be a nice enough guy. I’d be happy to sit on his deck, have some wine, and look out over his neighbor’s vineyard.

Until the invitation arrives, I’ll just keep doing what I can to support people like Lawrence Lessig who are far more qualified to understand the problems and to know how to solve them than Mark Meckler.

Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim | Video on TED.com

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens.

Greg Russak‘s insight:

If you’re still wondering what the issue is with Citizens United and what it’s doing to our Republic, invest 18 minutes with this video.

See on www.ted.com