There is only one single campaign strategy this coming election cycle for presidential candidates: raise a ton of money.
While political bigwigs from both parties like Hillary Clinton (D) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have publicly opposed big money in politics, they still plan on using heaps and heaps of it in the 2016 race.
Unfortunately, their convictions on campaign reform are squeaking out from inside our currently screwed up political structure. Candidates may want to get rid of our costly elections, but for now, they need to win playing by the same old rules.
And the status quo necessitates a massive amount of money, which outside groups called "super PACs" are in good position to secure. Super PACs can obtain and spend unlimited funds on endorsing a candidate thanks to Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United -- just as long as they never "coordinate" with them.
Super PACs should technically be like magical little elves that sneak into a penniless cobbler's home to make him a nice pair of shoes. In reality, they're not miraculous elf-visitors. They're usually friends or former colleagues of the political candidate on very clear marching orders -- candidates rarely seem stunned to have a super PAC come to their financial rescue.
For instance, at the helm of Jeb Bush's super PAC called Right to Rise sits Mike Murphy, who has been a top political advisor to Bush for decades. Another White House contender, Governor Scott Walker, will have his current aides managing his super PAC coffers for 2016. Priorities USA Action, the name of the super PAC eager to bankroll Clinton's run for presidency, not only gets to have personal sit-downs with her but Clinton has also headlined their fundraisers.
None of this will count as coordination. The no-coordination rules are more lenient than a 12-year old baby-sitter. Ann Ravel, head of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the oversight agency for political spending, even admitted, "The likelihood of [campaign] laws being enforced is slim...People think the FEC is dysfunctional. It's worse than dysfunctional."
After the Supreme Court's twisted version of fair elections became a reality, the rise of gaping loopholes for campaign laws has made our candidates laser-focused on wooing the ultra-rich over building the trust of their voters.
This is not how our Founding Fathers envisioned America when they set up a republic with a government accountable to its people.
In 2012, I started the grassroots campaign, StampStampede.org, to help "We the People" build a movement against big money in politics. We now have over 35,000 people around the country legally stamping U.S. currency with anti-corruption messages like "Corporations are not people" and "Not to be used for bribing politicians."
Approximately 875 people see each stamped bill whilst in circulation. That means if 1 person stamps four bills a day for a year, the message will reach 1 million people. With tens of thousands of people stamping, we're creating a lasting mass demonstration by using money to get money out of politics -- a form of monetary jiu jitsu to fight against cashola-fueled corruption.
Politicians already tend to soft-pedal on the very pillars of their campaigns once in office -- and the current candidates gearing up for 2016 are blatantly taking advantage of the FEC meltdown with their shameless super-PAC-dalliances. Ravel added, "The few rules that are left, people feel free to ignore."
No -- change can only happen through action from outside the beltway. "The people" need to keep protesting, spreading awareness, contacting legislators, and keeping the pressure building to stamp out big money in politics.
While our presidential candidates seem to have finally picked-up on the public concern over this matter thanks to past and current people-powered activism, they've yet to propose anything worth voting for. If they really mean what they're saying, it's time lay their cards on the table.
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