Tomorrow night, we'll see returns from the New Hampshire primary, the second contest in the Republican Presidential nomination. Most people think of this as an election, where voters go to the polls and select their preferred candidate. But I believe, and an increasing number of viewers believe, that our political system has become an auction in which the highest bidder wins.
If something about this election feels wrong to you, you're not alone. Here are ten facts about the political process that show why we need to end the auction by getting money out of politics. (Want to learn even more? I go in depth in my new book Greedy Bastards).
1) The Candidate With More Money Wins: From the 2008 elections: "In 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day Nov. 5, 2008 the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning."
2) Congress's Main Job Is to Raise Money, Not Govern "Here is a general rule of thumb for US House incumbents. They need to raise roughly $10,000 a week started the day they are elected."
3) 48 Percent Say Most Members of Congress Are Corrupt "A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters believe that most members of Congress are corrupt. Just 28% disagree, and another 24% are not sure."
4) Voters Think That Cash is King "A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday indicates that 86 percent of the public thinks elected officials in the nation's capital are mostly influenced by the pressure they receive from campaign contributors."
5) No Trust in Elected Officials According to Pew Research less than 25% of people believe they can trust our government at all, particularly our elected officials.
6) Outsider Movements Are Quickly Coopted Headline: Tea Party House Members Even Wealthier Than Other GOP Lawmakers.
7) Faith in All Institutions Collapsing
- 83% say of American adults say they have less trust in "politics in general" than they
did 10 or 15 years ago;
- 79% say they have less trust in big business and major corporations;
- 78% say they have less trust in government;
- 72% report declining trust in the media.
- A surprising majority, 54%, "believe that my freedoms are being taken away."
Pew confirms this.
Gallup: Satisfaction with Government at All-time Low
Pew: Public Trust in Government: 1958-2010
9) Cash Determines Voting What shaped the House vote on the proposed Keystone Pipeline? Oil industry lobbying: "As important as the vote total in the House, however, was another number: within minutes of the vote, Oil Change International had calculated that the 234 Congressional representatives who voted aye had received $42 million in campaign contributions from the fossil-fuel industry; the 193 nays, $8 million."
As we watch our way of life change radically, as we see our great country consumed by corruption and greed, we must have our own debates about what to do.
You won't find these discussions in our presidential debates, dominated as they are by money that separates the voters from their candidates with a wall of cash. That's why those contests feel so empty.
The debates we need are the ones happening around tables all over the country. They're the ones I seek to host on my show. And they're the ones I wrote my book to support, offering a guide to this country's structural problems -- and solutions.
I'm profoundly hopeful about where these debates can take us, because I'm not the only one who wants a better way. We all do. And together, we'll make that better way a reality.
Check out GreedyBastards.com to learn more about why and how we need to get money out of politics to restore our republic.