Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What Exactly Makes Politicians So Attractive To Wealthy Donors?


An African-America elected official and old friend sent me a news piece from 2010 by Dr. Boyce Watkins, the brilliant author, professor and social activist, perhaps best known for referring to Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity as "UnAmerican borderline Klansmen who graduated from the Rush Limbaugh School of Arrogant Self-righteousness." Writing for The Grio 6 years ago, Watkins asserted what white commentators are still too nervous to say, namely that the corruption in the Congressional Black caucus is threatening African-Americans. Last week we emphasized the over-the-top corruption of the lobbyist-dominated CBC-PAC, which endorsed Hillary but refused to endorse Donna Edwards. And late last night we looked at social critique by Bruce Dixon and Corey Robins that show how ill-served black voters are by the politicians they back. "Does anyone think," asks Watkins, "that the Congressional Black Caucus works for the interests of the African-American community? Well, think again. It appears that, according to a scathing report in the New York Times, African-Americans don’t have the money to buy the CBC’s loyalty. At the very least, they do not appear to be the top priority for a legislative group that has allowed dollar signs to complicate its priorities. The New York Times article details a highly suspicious network of foundations and charities that seem to funnel money to CBC members in exchange for influence in Washington. The political and charitable wings of the CBC took in $55 million dollars between 2004 and 2008, with only $1 million of that coming through their political action committee; the rest came through their unregulated network of foundations, which are allowed to escape campaign finance laws designed to keep legislators from being bought by corporate America."
Even more disturbing are the relationships that the Congressional Black Caucus has formed with industries that clearly do not have the interests of the black community at heart, including the Internet poker industry, cigarette manufacturers, alcoholic beverage producers and rent-to-own companies. Many rent-to-own companies operate in predominantly black neighborhoods and are effectively electronic drug dealers: They give consumers a quick high today in exchange for unethically high fees and massive amounts of debt. Well guess what? The CBC is one of the reasons that the rent-to-own industry has been allowed to expand its operations in urban communities where CBC members don’t even live.

What the Congressional Black Caucus must understand is that money is really like a drug: powerful, addictive and capable of changing your incentives almost immediately. It allows others to manipulate you by leveraging your dependence on the drug-- there is no one more powerful in the life of an addict than the person pushing the dope--African-Americans are especially vulnerable to the financial drug, since we don’t have much money in the first place. We take money without a second thought and then wake up to find that our appetite for civil rights has been absorbed by the complacency of capitalism. We watch injustice happen right in front of us and look the other way out of fear of losing the financial security on which we’ve come to depend. With every dollar you take from an enemy, you are selling just a wee bit more of your integrity.

Allowing the CBC to take money from any corporation offering it is one of the hugest political mistakes in black American history. It would be no different from a father telling his daughter to take money from any boy who offers it under the assumption that none of these boys are going to want anything in return. Corporations don’t give money to politicians just to be nice; they want favors and lots of them.
Oh dear, that argument! Hillary still wants people to believe that the $39,278,192 she's taken from the Finance Sector (not counting the millions the pernicious banksters stuffed into her pockets in the form of speaker fees-- personal income) have had no influence on her thinking. And it isn't just Hillary, of course. The most corrupt Democrat to ever stalk the Senate floor, Chuck Schumer, has taken $23,773,838 from the banksters and he also claims he never changed a vote because of the bribes he's gobbled up. Obviously he never had to change a vote; the banksters understood exactly who they were bribing. And this cycle, his incredible corrupt Florida protégée, Patrick Murphy, who he and the banksters are determined to install in the Senate has gotten more Wall Street cash, $838,500, than any non-incumbent Senate candidate, including more than any of the Republicans running. I don't think Dr. Watkins would wonder why the banksters are spending millions of dollars to make sure Clinton, Schumer and Murphy are elected.

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