The leader of the Federal Election Commission, the agency charged with regulating the way political money is raised and spent, says she has largely given up hope of reining in abuses in the 2016 presidential campaign, which could generate a record $10 billion in spending.Politicians like Jeb Bush and Martin O'Malley are raising money without even formally declaring their candidacies, as required by quaint federal election law. "Everybody does it" is the new legalized way of bribery, as the billions changing hands becomes the main story and the measure of a candidate's worth. The corruption is not only complete, it has become a badge of honor among thieves. Gone are the good old days of bag-men and midnight meetings in hotel rooms and, heaven forbid, undercover FBI agents wiring provocateurs for sound in hopes of catching crooked pols in the act.
“The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim,” Ann M. Ravel, the chairwoman, said in an interview. “I never want to give up, but I’m not under any illusions. People think the F.E.C. is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.”
Wild West, meet The Sopranos.
For all intents and purposes, our country's electoral regulatory watchdog is not only muzzled, it's been effectively euthanized after a valiant 40-year run. Four decades ago, during Watergate, the nation still had the capacity to be shocked. It searched its soul and saw that it was rotten. The rot has continued to eat away at democracy until it can no longer be said to exist.
Nixon's C.R.E.E.P. (Committee to Re-elect the President) and its sleazy slush fund sound so quaint nowadays. Nixon, were he running today, could expect to garner glowing headlines for his fund-raising prowess. The multibillion-dollar Clinton and Bush machines make him look like St. Francis of Assisi.
Congress might as well make it official and cut off the feeding and funding of the moribund F.E.C. Or they might use the neoliberal method of reanimation and simply privatize it. Coors Light could complain to a corporate electoral tribunal if it was being undercut by Schlitz in the "who'd you rather have a beer with?" billionaire sweepstakes.
Don't laugh. After all, presidential debates have been privatized and controlled by corporate sponsors for years. The rules clearly state that if the oligarchy doesn't buy a candidate a minimum 15% share of the votes in rigged national polls, then that candidate can be barred from participating. It happened to Dennis Kucinich in 2008. It happened to Green Party candidate Jill Stein in 2012. Not only was she barred, she was taken to a secret police prison and shackled for the duration of the "free and open" discussion.
As Christopher Hitchens wrote, "the polling business gives the patricians an idea what the mob is thinking, and of how that thinking might be changed, or shall we say ‘shaped.’ It is the essential weapon in the mastery of populism by the elite. It also allows for ‘fine calibration’ and for capsules of ‘message’ to be prescribed for various constituencies.”
Also -- forget about the United Nations coming in to monitor our free and fair elections. If the outside world tried that trick, and called the One Indispensable Nation out on its perfidy, the American griftopoly would simply cut off their funding too, before evicting them from the Income Disparity Capital of the World.
Meanwhile, an antidote to insanity: