Recently, I described how the National Rifle Association (NRA) influences gun control laws by funneling campaign contributions to friendly legislators. (Blog 12/13/2016) Naturally, when our president-elect made a campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” I hoped he meant he’d discourage dark money, like the NRA’s and other Super-pacs (Click), because they allow donations to be anonymous. (Click) . Most people agree unlimited amounts of dark money corrupt the political process, making it less responsive to the will of the people. Imagine my dismay when our president- elect drew to his inner circle, David Bosse, (Click) the man who kicked off the era of dark money with Citizen’s United. (“Swamp Creature,” by Andy Kroll, Jan/Feb, 2017, Mother Jones pgs. 16-17.)
Trump would like the public to believe his 2016 presidential campaign was self-financed. $66 million did come from his personal wealth. But, $79 million came in the form of dark money, much of it pouring into his coffers in the final reporting period before the vote, leaving the public unaware of the infusion. (Ibid pg. 16.) Unfortunately, the Federal Election Committee, assigned to campaign oversight, is so underfunded it can’t repair its wall clocks. Likewise, the IRS, charged with tracing the movement of dark money, is financially hamstrung. Since 2010, the agency has seen $900 million drained from its budget. Says one former IRS official, “With Republicans in Congress basically disarming the IRS, they’ve made it safe for everybody to push the limits of the law.” (Ibid pg. 17.)
To be fair, the Democrats have benefited from the neglect of these agencies, as well, which proves Donald Trump is right about one thing. The system is rigged. (Ibid pg. 17.) But, given the philosophy of people he’s chosen to advise him, he doesn’t seem inclined to do anything about that.
Do I blame Trump and the Republicans for what’s happening to our democracy? Sure, I do. But I also blame the 97 million members of the electorate who didn’t bother to vote in 2016. (Click) Doing nothing is the real cancer eroding our society.
Changing demographics offer hope for the future. Projections are for a rising majority include professional women, people of color and millennials. (“Trump’s Vanishing Base,” by Bob Moser, The New Republic, Jan/Feb 2017 pg. 7) These voters have a tendency to be more liberal than their predecessors and more likely to support reforms. I hope that’s true. The way to drain the swamp is for citizens to take charge of their government.