I'm glad I have a chance to say a few words about money in Politics, because this issue is really at the heart of it all, like a clogged, throbbing artery. More than ever, freedom of speech has become freedom to buy enough media to drown out just about everybody else's freedom of speech. I was driving, yesterday, and as I clicked past one Right Wing radio show after another, for some reason it all was drowned out by a voice in my head that kept repeating the words, "Liberal Media." It seemed sad and funny at the same time. Maybe that's because I am, among other things, a comedian. A fair amount of the time I'm a pissed-off comedian. Why? Because an old quote also pops into my head, more than I'd like it to. It goes: "There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money, and I can't remember what the second one is."
I found out that it's a quote from a super-rich guy named Mark Hanna who managed the campaign of William McKinley back in the dark ages of Media. He strong-armed his loaded industrialist pals and raised enough bank to outspend Democrat, William Jennings Bryan, by ten to one. Guess who got to be President? It still works like that, and, in fact, it's getting worse because of a recent development known as Citizens United. "Citizen's United," it sounds a lot better than "A handful of the mega-rich who own politicians and can swing some Supreme Court Justices." The real takeaway here is that we've turned the word bribery into the more respectable word, contribution. Now that we've been force-fed the bizarre idea that a corporation is basically a person, I hope Haliburton and Blackwater and Lockheed-Martin don't get upset stomachs if they're denied their God-given right to attack Iran. Poor rich guys, all they want is a little free market opportunity, a chance to work the same magic they used to transform Iraq into the peaceful, democratic wonderland it is today.
I have to admit: It really takes some world class bullshitting skills to claim that handing politicians gigantic checks in return for favors is simply free speech. I'll tell you what's not bullshit, though: they actually rammed it through with a straight face. It's one more slap in the face for the 99%, but the Romneys of the world don't see it that way. They don't see it as arrogance and/or hubris or whatever word you can use to better describe their arrogance and hubris. No, they see it like, "Look, God doesn't make mistakes -- he's 'blessed' me with five-hundred million dollars, and if that doesn't prove that I'm qualified and deserve to wear the pants around here, I don't know what does!"
In the same category as Romney and hateful uber-nerds like the Koch brothers, we have Sheldon Adelson, casinos-in-China magnate and who knows what else, who can casually toss an extra hundred million bucks at the Romney machine so it can buy ads telling people that they're going to Hell along with what's left of America if they don't kick the Black Communist from Kenya out of the Lily White House. Unfortunately, Adelson also thinks that America exists primarily to provide money and muscle to Israel and do the bidding of Benjamin Netanyahu. Jeez, you'd think Israel had oil the way our "leaders" keep their our lips on its ass. What they do have is a sweetheart Foreign Aid deal with supposedly cash-strapped America whereby we give them money and they buy weapons from us so they can remain the sheriff in town in the part of the world that does have oil. They're our special friends, like Saudi Arabia, only they're Jewish, and they don't have oil. Get it? Me either, but they both buy tons of weapons from American Arms merchants, because, after all, all God's children need expensive, high-tech weapons. But don't get me started on The Middle East. My point is that Sheldon Adelson has about a million times more freedom of speech than you or anybody you know. And, he can affect decisions like who we attack next or who becomes President. That's just plain crazy, and that's the problem with big money in Politics. It's making more and more people feel like powerless strangers in their own country, and I don't mean that in a good way.
Campaign Finance Reform may not sound like a burning, hot-button issue, but it is, and all of us citizens better get united behind that, or pretty soon there won't be anything left worth fighting for. That's why I'm running for president and that's why I approved this message.
This post is part of the HuffPost Shadow Conventions 2012, a series spotlighting three issues that are not being discussed at the national GOP and Democratic conventions: The Drug War, Poverty in America, and Money in Politics.
HuffPost Live will be taking a comprehensive look at the corrupting influence of money on our politics August 29th and September 5th from 12-4 pm ET and 6-10 pm ET. Click here to check it out -- and join the conversation.
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