From C.R.E.A.M. to C.R.A.P.

On January 31, 1994, the acronym C.R.E.A.M. was unleashed upon the world by the Wu Tang Clan.  Hailed by Time Magazine as one of the All-Time 100 Songs since the beginning of the magazine, millions of people are familiar with the chorus from which the acronym originates, “Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M.  Get the money, dolla dolla bill y’all.” Well, this week, the Supreme Court one-upped the Wu Tang Clan with their own acronym.  For those who didn’t already know, the SCOTUS made it abundantly clear that C.R.A.P. (Cash Rules American Politics) is how things are done in America, and nothing or nobody will change that anytime soon.

In McClutcheon v FEC, the SCOTUS has continued down the pathway that money equals speech.  I don’t care how you try to frame it, money is not speech.  Money can buy you a huge megaphone to blast your opinion, but it is not, in and of itself, free speech.  In his reasoning, Chief Justice Roberts offers this in his opinion on pages 3-4.

The aggregate limits do not further the permissible governmental interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption or its appearance.

This Court has identified only one legitimate governmental interest for restricting campaign finances: preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption.  Moreover, the only type of corruption that Congress may target is quid pro quo corruption.  Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties, does not give rise to quid pro quo corruption.  Nor does the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner “influence over or access to” elected officials or political parties.  The line between quid pro quo corruption and general influence must be respected in order to safeguard basic First Amendment rights, and the court must “err on the side of protecting political speech rather than suppressing it.”

I guess that, in Chief Justice Robert’s mind, all these billionaires are lining up to spend money just for sh*ts and giggles.  Why would people go through the trouble of trying to hide donations if they didn’t expect something in return?  It doesn’t matter which party or candidate is on the receiving end of the money either.  Nobody spends millions of dollars just for the hell of it.  Does anybody honestly expect any officeholder funded by Sheldon Adelson to green light internet or offshore gambling?  What officeholder funded by Wall Street is going to enact a transaction tax or reform laws to try to avoid another financial meltdown?

Quid pro quo is not the only form of political corruption out there.  Check out the stories behind the mayor of Charlotte, the governor of Georgia, or even look at Chris Christie’s issues.  Corruption comes in many forms, and in most cases, the bait or trigger is usually a financial one.  When you think about it, it’s a win-win for deep pocketed donors.  You make campaigning ridiculously expensive for the average politician, and then you offer him the necessary money to maintain his office.  Of course, he’s going to “look out” for you as he’s going to need that financing once again when his next election comes up.  Anybody who doesn’t see that is either naive or simply trying to fool themselves.

I’ve been a big believer in public financing of elections, but I find it harder and harder to see that happening here for one reason and one reason only.  “Cash Rules American Politics, C.R.A.P.  Get the money, dolla dolla bill y’all.”

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10 thoughts on “From C.R.E.A.M. to C.R.A.P.

  1. Excellent piece, Bro.

    I agree 1000% that private money must be removed from politics. Good luck finding a politician to champion that cause.

    Like

    • Thanks. I don’t think the problem is finding such a politician. The problem would be getting them elected. I think that our system is already corrupted, but it’s happened so gradually that many can’t see it.

      The only way I see to defeat the influx of money would be with a social media fueled campaign. If Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube can spark change in other countries, why can’t that also hold true here?

      Like

  2. No matter your political affilitation, if you think you have a voice in things, you’re naive, in my opinion. Other than perhaps at the local level, (and that depends on how big the place you live is), you haven’t had a voice in a mighty long time.

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    • So true. If you live in a big city, the politics are no different than the state or federal levels. Even small town politicians are not immune to the corruption potential brought on by money.

      I’ve read differing opinions on this ruling, and it’s funny how the reactions fall along ideological lines when both parties have long ago rid themselves of anything resembling the parties of old.

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  3. For what it’s worth two points from my perspective:

    1. With the Citizen’s United decision I am not surprised with this decision and not sure why anyone else is surprised regardless of where they stand on the issue.

    2. While not in agreement with the Citizen’s United or this decision does it really change the process that much? In my opinion it does not. Since the inception of our nation big monied interests for right or wrong have been working to influence and even craft legislation to meet their wants and desires. Not saying they always get what they want but directly and indirectly these interest from across the political spectrum never seem to stop in these efforts. With these two decisions a lot of this money is just more overt vs being covert in the way it flows to candidates, parties and causes.

    I must say that this comes across as a cynical view of the “system” but I don’t think the
    “average Joe” has ever been on equal footing with the monied interests. We can debate that it is getting worse and that might be true. However I would say we have more information today and it is more readily available than we have ever had as opposed to it being worse or better than it used to be.

    In closing I will say the big money is now flowing more in the open (in your face if you will) but the aim of those throwing around this money hasn’t really changed much since the inception of our country. I guess these court decisions allows\ those throwing around this money and those who carry the water but don’t have nor will ever have that type money to feel better about themselves that it is just all “free speech” and good for America.

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    • I had to sleep on your response for a while. I tried to think of a response, but nothing would form.

      You hit the nail on the head and drove it through the board with one strike. The one thing I’d disagree with you on is the idea of having more information. Having more information does no good to inform the public when the information is misleading or downright false information masquerading as truth. We see that in the god awful “reports” that come from think tanks that push partisan information that they claim is unbiased and true.

      I think it’s going to be worse because you now have multiple fronts of misleading information bombarding voters who, in turn, are becoming more skeptical of the information and the politicians. Congress has a extremely low approval rate for a reason, but as long as the price of admission remains out of reach for the average person, we’re going to see a continued push towards an oligarchical society.

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  4. Good point on the “information”. Should have flushed that out a little more. While we do have access to more information and in much quicker time frame than ever before a lot of this “info” is bull being peddled as fact.

    We have to be vigilant with the time to we have to seek out the truth. Lot of bull to wade through and it is coming “fast and furious”.

    Like

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