Generally speaking, when a politician begins a statement with the words "Believe me," what follows is - again, generally speaking - likely not true. Our current POTUS is a prime example of this phenomenon. Without those two words, he'd have 50% less to say. Need an example? Less than a week ago, while campaigning for passage of the then-pending Senate tax overhaul vote before a gathering in St. Charles, Missouri, '45 said "This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing - believe me. Believe me; this is not good for me." Predictably, the crowd cheered wildly (why, we'll never know). He then concluded the passage by saying that he had "many wealthy friends who are not happy with me . . . believe me." Even if one disputes the fact of '45 having "many friends," his statement is demonstrably untrue; this overhaul will blow up the deficit by more than $1.5 trillion, rob more than 13 million working class and poor Americans of healthcare, raise taxes on those earning less than $75,000, eliminate more than $35 billion from Medicare, and see the vast majority of its benefits going to the wealthiest .05% of the American public, through such fetid codicils as eliminating the inheritance tax (which only applies to those leaving behind estates in the millions upon millions of dollars. Far from "not being good for me," this one factor alone could easily save '45 and his heirs more than a billion dollars).
Believe me . . . please do, for the above is demonstrably factual, not deviously fatuous.
We live in a time and place of such utter cynicism, confusion and fear that it is hard - if not impossible - to know what to believe; to know what is truthful and what a mere sack of manure. Personally, I still put trust in polling . . . when done by such professional organizations and concerns as Pew, Kaiser, Quinnipiac, Rasmussen and even Gallup. For these are groups that consider polling to be both an academic and scholarly pursuit which will lead them to whatever conclusions the polls will evince, as opposed to polling organizations which strive to "prove" pre-conceived partisan points of view. And yes, these partisan polling outfits traverse the entire political spectrum, from the wildly progressive to the psychotically conspiratorial. Unfortunately, the best, most honest and professional of polls often lead us to the worst, most cynically disheartening of conclusions. Consider if you will . . .
It's a fact: A majority of Americans say it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage. And a growing share now supports a “single payer” approach to health insurance, according to a new national survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, more than half the American people are against repealing "Obamacare" without first having a new plan in place. And yet, the Republican-controlled Congress is firmly against Obamacare and continues to deride any form of Universal Health Coverage as "Socialist."
It is a fact: Sixty-four percent of voters support stricter gun laws, the poll shows, including 41 percent who strongly support them. Less than 3-in-10 voters (29 percent) oppose stricter gun laws, including 16 percent in strong opposition. Nonetheless, Congress continues to assert that those seeking new gun safety laws are merely hiding their true goal: currying favor with their deep-pocketed friends at the National Rifle Association. Virtually every Republican (and a few Democrats) is even against enacting laws making it more difficult for people convicted of domestic abuse to acquire guns. Instead, they acclaim that any piece of gun safety legislation is but a first step in taking guns away from all Americans. (Please note the use of the term "gun safety," rather than "gun control." I think using the former is more to the point, and therefore less likely to scare away those sitting on the fence.)
It is a fact: Despite the fact that only one in four Americans recently polled were in favor of the Republican's tax overhaul, it passed the Senate 51-49 with but a single Republican (outgoing Tennessee Senator Bob Corker) voting against it. How is this possible?
It's a fact: Nearly 70% of those polled favored America's participation in the Paris Accord - which aims to tackle climate change head-on. Nonetheless, '45 - with the backing of his Republican-led Congress - pulled out of the international pact. America is now the only country on earth not to be a part of that pact . . . with our president still questioning whether global warming is or is not a "Chinese Hoax."
It is a fact: A vast 86 percent of Americans support a right to residency for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, with support crossing the political spectrum. Two-thirds back a deal to enact such legislation in tandem with higher funding for border control. Despite this, nary a single Republican leader has so much as suggested that '45 change course and permit these "Dreamers" to remain in America.
It's a fact: American voters, by a margin of 69%-27% approve of the constitutional right to abortion established by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. Despite this, both Congress and innumerable Republican-controlled state legislatures are continuing to chip away at a woman's right to choose; whether by cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, passing legislation which limits abortions to only the first 8 weeks of a pregnancy, saddling clinics performing abortions with impossible requirements, or declaring that life begins at the moment of (or even before) conception.
Believe me: all the above are demonstrable facts.
So why don't our elected officials heed vox populi - public opinion? Is it because they are cruel, heartless, greedy or just plain stupid? Could it be that Washington, D.C. and the various state capitols are all on another planet . . . or could it be something else?
Believe me: it is something else.
That "something else," which motivates (forces?) the party in power to go against the demonstrable will of "We the People" is the worst Supreme Court ruling in all American history: the court's 2010 decision in the Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission case, which gave corporations and so-called "super-pacs" the status of people, thereby permitting unfettered, unlimited, often untraceable amounts of money to be showered upon political officeholders and candidates who would do their bidding and dance to the tune played by corporations, super-pacs and lobbying organizations. In essence, Citizens United (which was decided by a 5-4 vote) gave multi-billionaires like the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and Bob Mercer (who until recently was, among other things, a major stakeholder in Breitbart News) and single-interest groups and super-pacs (such as the National Rifle Association, the coal, oil, gas and big pharma) the biggest, cushiest seat at the table. Through unlimited contributions, they have been given legal cover to place a hammy hand on the scale of democracy. Indeed ever since Citizens United the Constitution seems to begin with the words "We the Corporations of the United States . . ." It is the rare senator, representative, governor or state legislator who has the conviction, courage and guts to go against the will of those with the bucks. Call it "Gold's Law" - Thems with the gold makes the law. Things were a bit different in the years before Citizens United. I well remember the words of a former boss, the late California Assembly Speaker Jess 'Big Daddy' Unruh who said both "Money is the mother's milk of politics," and "If you can't take their (lobbyists') money, drink their booze, eat their food and have fun with their women (Jess' statement was a bit more Raymond Chandler on this last point) and then have the courage to vote against them, you just don't belong in politics."
Believe me: polls show that a clear majority of the American public understands that Citizens United is bad for politics, bad for America, bad for Democracy. And yet, the Supreme Court decision is law and the billionaires continue to get their way. What is to done? How to rid America of that which has so utterly befouled our political process? One way would be to get the SCOTUS to overturn their earlier decision. Of course, as long as the highest court in the land is filled with conservatives, that's never going to happen. Another - and perhaps only realistic - way of getting rid of it would be amending the United States Constitution. While at first blush this might seem like history's biggest pipe dream, do recall the words of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin" - "The wheel's still in spin. . . For the loser now will be later to win/For the times they are a-changin."
Believe me: Getting rid of Citizens United via Constitutional Amendment, although quite difficult, is not impossible.
Believe me: A growing number of state legislatures and more than 700 cities, towns and municipalities have already endorsed such an amendment.
Believe me: Nationwide petitions have garnered millions of signatures.
Believe me: In September 2014, a majority of U.S. Senators voted in favor of a constitutional amendment but their 54-42 majority fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the threat of an opposition filibuster. It was a partisan clash: All 42 “No” votes came from Republicans and all 54 “Yes” votes came from Democrats.
Believe me: Citizens United is turning this country into even more of a corporate state than we were back in the Gilded Age. Indeed, in turns of Supreme Court history, Citizens United was, is and shall always be Worse Than Dred Scott
Believe me: Ridding America of the consequences of Citizens United will go a long, long way towards restoring representative Democracy to the land of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt.
For those who wish to participate, click this link and add your name and voice. Then, make sure you only vote for Representatives, Senators, state legislators and members of your local county and municipal governments that will support repeal. If we work together, it can work.
318 days down, 1142 to go.
Copyright©2017 Kurt F. Stone