The writer is a former 2nd District congressman and Nebraska state senator.
I am not going to be involved in the race for Congress in the 2nd District. These comments are not directed at any one candidate but to a system that is rotten to the core.
We think we vote for candidates who are just like us. In fact, we are deceived by a system that rewards money and power.
There are way too many obstacles to voting. Gerrymandering and voting rules that disadvantage minorities, older Americans and the poor are nefarious enough. However, all Americans suffer when elections are controlled by the fundraising practices of our two political parties.
I went to Congress to fix the VA in Omaha, help support UNMC’s efforts to address Ebola, save Obamacare and find 25 friends on both sides of the aisle to work with. I did not go to Congress to become part of the political industrial complex.
Many candidates run for office pledging not to take corporate money. However, those same candidates are funded by Party PACs and other “nonprofit organizations” that are funded by corporations and wealthy individuals. Leadership of political parties is determined in part on fundraising ability.
It is a rare candidate indeed who tells their party leaders to pound sand when ability to fundraise is discussed. If you don’t raise the money, you simply don’t get the support from the party.
Within political parties there are caucuses that recruit candidates and members of Congress. The Democrats have a Progressive Caucus that is more liberal and a New Democratic Caucus that is more moderate. Republicans have similar organizations. They also raise dollars from corporate PACs’ wealthy donors. No matter what a candidate tells you, they are beholden to corporate interests and wealthy donors.
State parties also must raise money from many of the same groups.
The Russian hacking in 2016 bothered me far less because one party or candidate gained an electoral advantage. The failure of Congress to act in the spring of 2016 to blow the whistle on this activity subverted our election not because one candidate won and another lost but because the American people were kept in the dark.
Both parties had an interest in not delving too deeply into their source of funds.
Our democracy is at stake for many reasons. In this time of crisis, Americans have a right to expect that their elected representatives will ignore party and address the needs of the country. The system of political party control of funding campaigns is rotten. It moves us further apart and distracts those we elect from their doing their jobs and subverts our democracy. It must stop.