The class bias of American politics has not only cost us our democracy. It has also cost us our jobs, our health, and our security. For years, the recovery was crippled by the politics of austerity, as a bipartisan coalition took a butcher's knife to the public sector, and as balanced budgets took precedence over basic needs.
Too much money in our elections undermines representative democracy. But the FEC can begin to right its wrongs. It should recommit to enforcing the law and safeguarding democracy. And perhaps sometimes soon, the FEC should invite the public back to the podium for some good old-fashioned free speech -- the kind that doesn't cost a dime.
According to former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers -- who is emerging as a key economic advisor to Hillary Clinton -- the big political challenge in addressing economic inequality is not to embrace "a politics of envy." No, Mr. Summers, it's not the politics of envy. It's the politics of responsibility.
I have always viewed the federal government as an essential cog in the organized effort to curb pollution and resource degradation. It was therefore alarming to me that President Ronald Reagan's tart observation that "the 10 most frightening words in the English language are 'I'm from the federal government, and I'm here to help'" was beginning to make sense.
If you believe in America, then there really is no excuse for not spending $900 million and joining the great American experiment that is our democracy. You see, $900 million may sound like a lot of money. But according to the Supreme Court, it's not. It's a lot of speech. The Koch Brothers understand this.
In both parties, the first prerequisite for success in next year's White House contest will be a strong performance in the Plutocrat Primary. The candidates who do well there will go into the other primaries and caucuses -- the ones where the rest of us have a vote -- with resources sufficient to drown out their opponents and with big-time obligations to their wealthy donors.
It's getting harder to defend our economic and environmental interests against the corrupting influence of campaign cash. The struggle for a fairer economy is inseparable from the struggle to protect the planet -- and both will be more successful once we've removed big money from our political process.
Today, in the face of limitless anonymous political donations and dramatically widening inequality, our government is slowly starting to look more like an oligarchy, governed according to the whims of a special few. Thankfully, there are straightforward steps Congress can take right now to reverse this deeply troubling trend.
At the end of the day, money in politics cannot be "someone else's issue." Because it distorts who is heard by our elected officials, it affects what's in your paycheck, who ends up in prison, what kind of health care we have access to, what kind of environment we leave for our children, and much more.