On Election night, 2014, as campaign spending records were shattered and Jon Stewart declared "Money" the big winner, the people of Tallahassee, Florida lit a beacon of hope for the rest of the nation. Voters in Florida's capital city overwhelmingly approved an extraordinary ethics and campaign finance reform ballot initiative that fights money in politics corruption, reclaims local government for the people, and provides a path to victory for national reform efforts. The victory was the opening salvo of a new strategy to break through gridlock at the federal level by passing tough new anti-corruption laws in cities, counties and states across the country -- emulating the successful efforts pioneered by marriage equality and marijuana decriminalization advocates in recent years.
Pity the American people for imagining that they have just elected the new Congress. In a formal way, they of course have. The public did vote. But in a substantive way, it's not true that they have chosen their government. This was the billionaires' election, billionaires of both parties. And while the Republican and Democratic Party billionaires have some differences, what unites them is much stronger than what divides them, a few exceptions aside. Indeed, many of the richest individual and corporate donors give to both parties. The much-discussed left-right polarization is not polarization at all. The political system is actually relatively united and working very effectively for the richest of the rich.
If Republicans want to defend the rights of corporations and billionaires to spend unlimited, secret money in campaigns, then they should say so. But they do not get a free pass to defend unlimited, secret political spending by sidestepping the question and pretending that Democrats are attacking our nation's First Amendment.
It's no secret that in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, super PACs have flooded campaigns with more money then ever before. So what better way to inform voters of who they are really voting for then to adorn our elected officials with the very corporate logos that brought them to power?