Teamsters

North America's Strongest Union

Buying Elections Means Death To Democracy

Fat cats like the Koch Brothers are increasingly controlling Congress.

The election process is an imperfect one, dominated too much by big money instead of real issues. But an announcement made earlier this week by the Koch Brothers sets a whole new level of ridiculousness that could punish workers even more.

During a plush retreat in Palm Springs, Calif. sponsored by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists said their political network will spend upwards of $900 million on the 2016 campaign, an unrivaled amount of cash from coordinated outside groups to try to put their pro-corporate imprint on the upcoming presidential election at the expense of middle-class families. Just for comparison’s sake, that’s nearly as much as either political party spent during the 2012 election

Those dollars will flow from a secret set of donors who attend the Kochs’ “seminars” in luxurious locales. And that’s the real problem. A small group of people – no matter whom they support – should not have the same influence on an election as the rest of the population. That’s not democracy. But that’s exactly what happens in today’s political system.

Americans have the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision five years ago to thank for this fiasco. That ruling allows greed to rule by letting big business and the super-rich buy elections.  And it leaves the future of rank-and-file workers in tatters.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sums up the potential costs of the Kochs’ contributions succinctly. “The agenda of the Koch Brothers is to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country,” he wrote.

There are a lot of things $900 million could buy. One report noted that the Kochs could use the money to buy at least 15 of the most expensive private islands up for sale worldwide or a professional sports franchise. Or, you know, it could go to something worthwhile -- like helping end hunger or cure cancer.

But their pledge to spend nearly $1 billion in one election cycle has nothing to do with being kind-hearted. It’s about buying a pro-corporate Congress at the expense of hundreds of millions of their fellow Americans.

Corporate profits should not be the most important factor in instituting public policy – good ideas that raise up the U.S. middle class should be. The Teamsters have and will continue to challenge lawmakers to change the landscape so working families can gain back their voice on Capitol Hill. The political system as it stands is broken. But we need to fix it before it’s too late.

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