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Michele Swenson Headshot

Colorado Senate Race a Chance to Start Reversing Corporate Stranglehold on Congress

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Before she left Congress in 1997, Colorado Rep. Pat Schroeder made a powerful commentary, holding a "Sold" banner at the base of the Capitol dome. By the late '90s, corporations had become entrenched puppet masters in our government-of-the-highest-bidder, controlling congressional policy-making in return for big bucks.

Both the Republican and Democratic Parties have sold their souls and auctioned off segments of our democracy for corporate cash. The corrupting beltway environment seems to have overwhelmed even President Obama, who eschewed special interest PAC money as a candidate. The Supreme Court's endorsement granting the plutocracy the rights of corporate personhood has opened the floodgates for corporate spending on elections, further reinforcing the iron grip of corporatist lobbies and contributing to the cynicism of a weary electorate who perceive their influence severely undercut.

Washington is deeply in thrall to special interest lobbyists, choking off real reforms in health care, banking, energy and climate change, and on and on. Corporate dominance has rendered even a Democratic majority ineffectual. We cannot afford more of the same.

The current Colorado U.S. senate race offers a rare opportunity for the electorate to exercise leverage against the corporate-controlled state. It is a chance to push back against the tons of lobbyist money invested to buy congressional votes that too often serve the corporate bottom line instead of the best interests of the people. The Colorado Democratic Senate election has exponentially raised the bar on money spent in a single election. Michael Bennet has raised $7.5 million, and has reportedly outspent Andrew Romanoff by a phenomenal $4.1 million thus far. By comparison, Ken Salazar and Mike Miles raised a total of $3.2 million combined in 2004.

The 2010 primary election provides a narrow window, a rare opportunity for the people to choose. Indeed, the Romanoff campaign has demonstrated that people power is the only thing that can overcome a system distorted by the disproportionate influence of special interest dollars. Colorado deserves better than choices made by corporate powerbrokers.

Andrew Romanoff offers a choice, not an echo or more of the same. He has always made himself available and accountable to the people, whether as Speaker opening his office weekly to meet with the people, or remaining in touch with his statewide Colorado constituency. He has continually demonstrated that his allegiance is to the people of Colorado first, not to corporate masters who perpetuate the dash-for-cash in return for exercising a stranglehold on Congress and legislatures.

The U.S. Congress currently operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of big corporations, so it is no surprise when corporate media endorse corporate-backed candidates.

Coloradans should make the best of our narrow window of opportunity to clearly send a message that we want leaders beholden to the people, not to the Washington elite and powers-that-be. A vote for Andrew Romanoff is a vote for changing politics as usual.

Democratic voters, mail or drop off your mail-in ballots to voting locations in your counties so they are received by Tuesday, August 10. Unaffiliated voters, go to a voting location, change your affiliation to Democratic - you can change back after the election - and cast your ballot for a candidate who will speak truth to power and act for the people instead of the corporate elite.

In the near future we need to work like hell to restore a level playing field for the people, including passage of public financing of campaigns and eliminating corporate "personhood." In this brief moment, the people can exercise the one small bit of democratic leverage we have left by voting for Andrew Romanoff.