March 2, 2019 — Even as more layers continue to be revealed from what seems to be an endless peeling back of Robert Mueller’s investigative onion, it’s clear that the Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Russian camps will each be left standing amidst its pungent aroma.
As I said almost two years ago, regardless of how you feel about our current president, his election and subsequent controversies — while polarizing Americans — has also forced us to engage with our government and its policies more than we have since the 1960s and 70s.
And that, at least, is a good thing.
In that same way, I also believe that the multiple indictments Mueller has handed down over the preceding months are just the beginning of what I hope will force us to take a hard look at just how ineffective and corrupt our political system has become — because regardless of which side of the aisle you’re from, American politics has developed an corrosive dependency on campaign funding from special interests.
In the 2004 general election, 95 percent of House races and 91 percent of Senate races were won by candidates who spent the most on their campaigns. This has only become more prevalent since 2010, when the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision began allowing unlimited spending by corporations, unions and individuals in elections — spawning Super PACS (Political Action Committees) that routinely raise millions of dollars for candidates by holding events hosted by special interests, lobbyists and others hoping to benefit from influencing future legislation.
While legislators and their staff are prohibited by law from making fundraising calls from their offices, both Democrats and Republicans can utilize party-owned call centers within two blocks of Capitol Hill.
This was documented in a “60 Minutes” report last April, when Florida Rep. David Jolly exposed “call centers” in the back rooms of his own party’s headquarters where legislators and staff can make “cold calls” utilizing a script aimed at persuading individuals to donate.
According to Jolly, the goal is to procure $18,000 a day.
“These are essentially sweat shop phone booths that compromise the dignity of the office,” Jolly said in his interview.
Sure, he was a Republican, but without question Democrats utilize the same banking operations that have become another cog in an out-of-control political machine.
While issues of collusion, manipulation, money laundering, false statements and conspiracy are being leveled, these are merely symptoms of a political plaque that has been building in the arteries of our government for decades — and now threatens the very heartbeat of our democracy.
Mueller’s investigation could prove to be one of the most important in our nation’s history, revealing a diagnosis of what we need to know rather than what we want to know.
Only then can we begin to address the kinds of reforms needed to assure that the heart of our political system beats for its people rather than its pocketbook.