As we await a constitutional amendment or public election finance legislation to counteract the gross Supreme Court decisions on campaign funding, it might be useful to take a hint from the underrated activists promoting local and healthy food, who are, in fact, among the most effective organizers of our era.
After all, law doesn’t solve all our problems and, when it does, it often takes an extraordinary long time. Meanwhile there is plenty that can be done.
Such as changing the language we use and how we use it.
For example, the growing local food movement is boosted by the fact that people can walk into an increasing number of markets and find labels indicating nearby origins of a particular item. Other food is marked as organic or sugar and gluten free. The secret is not just laws for firewalls but labels for eyeballs.
What if we treated politicians the same way as we do corn or bread and label those relying on local and reasonable funding as organic pols, while the rest – generically modified by oligarchs (or GMO) – as outsourced pols? Clean local money vs. dirty offshore money.
Change the labels to whatever works, but the point is that we have the ability to alter attitudes about this rotten situation by the very language we use and how we use it.
For example, at a state, county, or city level, normally non-political organizations like churches, small business organizations, and non-profits could come together to reach a consensus on what a clean election would look like. The logical starting point would be how much, if any, non-local money a responsible candidate could accept in order to win the group’s easily visible Clean Candidate label. The other candidates would de facto become the dirty ones.
As a case in point, Senator Susan Collins, who is running for reelection in my state of Maine, would not qualify. The Collins Watch has noted, “One couple gave Sen. Susan Collins more than any other–the legal maximum of $10,400–during the most recent filing period. And there’s a good chance you’ve heard of them: Linda and Vince McMahon, the duo behind World Wrestling Entertainment [who have a] history of virulent homophobia and misogyny.”
According to Wikipedia, “McMahon has a $12 million penthouse in Manhattan, a $40 million mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, a $20 million vacation home, and a 47-foot sports yacht named Sexy Bitch. Forbes has noted McMahon’s wealth at 1.1 billion dollars.”
To put this in some perspective, with that wealth the McMahons could give every Maine adults almost a thousand dollars although it was far cheaper and easier to cozy up to Susan Collins.
Despite the view of anti-justices Roberts and Scalia, there is nothing in the Constitution that allows someone of such distance and disconnection to bully voters in another state.
We need to start thinking of such people and the candidates who live off them much as we do unsafe and dirty food. After all, even if they were edible they would be the sort of things we wouldn’t let our children eat.
And we shouldn’t be too polite about it After all, the system has completely failed us in this matter. We need to find new language – like clean and dirty candidates – based on where they get their money.
And the local and organic food folk have shown us how to start.