Polls indicate that 74% of Americans are in favor of ending oil subsidies to companies like Exxon-Mobil and Chevron, oil industry giants who are reporting record profits as the price of gasoline soars. Yet on May 17, 2011 and then again on March 29 of 2012, the Senate rejected a bill which would have accomplished just that.
A CNN poll in 2012 on what was termed the Buffett Rule showed that 72% of Americans favored its passage. The Buffett Rule raised the prospects of a more equitable tax rate on the rich. Yet it also was defeated in the Senate.
Poll after poll all suggest that a minimum of 66% of the voting public believe the tax rates on the rich should be increased. With the deficit looming larger and larger, and threats that many of the fundamental components of the American Way of Life — Social Security, Medicare, education, unemployment insurance — must face drastic budgetary cuts, if not outright elimination, the public more and more supports significant increased taxation of the wealthiest in our nation. Yet it has been twelve years since taxes on the wealthy have seen any increase. On the contrary, they have been slashed and slashed to the point that the rich pay less than ever before in history and the federal government is tottering on the brink of bankruptcy.
In June 2009 during the intense national health care reform debates, 72% of Americans favored the inclusion of the public option. Mysteriously — or not so mysteriously — it dropped off the radar and was never included.
In a poll commissioned by the National Employment Law Project Action Fund just this past August, 80% of Americans said they are for raising the minimum wage to more than $10 per hour.
Polls also indicate that 76% of Americans are sick of the Pentagon spending tax dollars on military systems it doesn’t need. The bloated defense budget, the ongoing ground wars all over the globe, the vaporous war on terror, and vast untold sums spent of surveillance and intelligence gathering, now suck up over 50% of all of the money the government receives from taxpayers and borrows from countries all over the world. Yet there is no end in sight to out-of-control defense spending.
The latest New York Times/CBS News poll on the war in Afghanistan shows 76% of the public opposes it and favors immediate withdrawal. Have we seen any serious signs that we are pulling out in the foreseeable future? The most recent proposals by the White House suggest American troops will be in Afghanistan for ten more years. Till 2024!
72%. 76%. 80%. These are not marginal percentages. These are huge majorities!
While polling is not 100% accurate, as the above examples demonstrate, it’s patently clear what the American people are thinking. Yet our elected officials defiantly vote against the overwhelming tide of public opinion.
It is quite obvious our political representatives are not listening. They don’t represent us. Across the board on too many key issues, their voting records do not reflect the stated will of the people.
In a representative democracy, there should be some discernible correlation between what the people want and what comes out of the legislative and judicial bodies. There should be some parallel between what citizens demand with their collective voice and the leadership proffered by their chosen chief executive in the White House and their democratically elected legislative bodies.
It’s certainly no secret what is happening. Citizen voting is being made irrelevant by bullying monied interests — by the rich and powerful elite — as our elected officials consistently cave in to the might of the almighty dollar.
Sometimes it is an outright buy. Money pours into the campaign coffers and the favor is returned on the floor of the Congress, or with the manner in which laws are enforced, or not enforced, by the President and the executive branch.
Sometimes it is a defensive measure. A candidate up for election fears that if he or she does not vote the “right way”, a massive campaign will be funded by the monied interests to defeat them in the coming election, either by support of their opponent or by using the nefarious Super PACS to malign and discredit them.
This bribery and blackmail has destroyed any semblance of representative government in contemporary America.
I believe there is a solution to this. I also think that there is time to apply this remedy to the coming election. Nothing less than the survival of American democracy depends on it. It will require the immediate and total commitment by well-organized, motivated teams of community activists who want to decisively halt the stealing of our democracy by the rich and powerful. It will require mounting a campaign unlike any seen in recent history to mobilize and inform the voting public about what is going on and what can be done.
The bottom line on this solution is straightforward. It is time to draw a line in the sand. Every elected official must be put on notice. Here’s what we tell them . . .
“Either you vote in the interests of the people — not corporations, banks and Wall Street — or you get a pink slip.”
To avoid division and bickering, a focused campaign must be built around the core of critical issues the vast majority of Americans – left, right, independent, Republican, Democrat, Tea, liberal, progressive, conservative — nearly unanimously agree on.
A number of posts follow which outline in specific detail the strategy I am proposing here. This is the list . . .
- Pledges: Candidate Contracts
- How Pledges Can Work
- The October Surprise
- Pledge: Oil Industry Subsidies
- Pledge: Social Security
- Pledge: Medicare
We’ve learned our lesson. The faith both in our democratic system and the politicians we entrusted with the future of our nation and the quality of our lives was misplaced. The system has been corrupted by money and the trustworthiness of our “representatives” in public office been sabotaged.
No more apologies.
No more excuses.
No more bullshit.
Trust no incumbent!