NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: Get The Money Out Of Politics

On Thursday’s “Daily Show,” New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “I think we should get the money out of politics. Period.”

This is one of those issues that is not defined by left or right, and forget about defining it as Democratic or Republican because when it comes to party politics, money is a big problem. And this includes Gillibrand, who like most politicians, has accepted donations from the biggest and wealthiest corporations.

So while this issue casts a wide net, I do think you will find many more free market ideologues on the right. And it is this blind advocacy of the free market by conservatives that puts Washington D.C. in the crosshairs of a relentless lobbying assault. You will find many self-identifying conservatives who agreed with Mitt Romney when he said “corporations are people,” and who agreed with the Citizens United ruling that money is speech. However, you can also find conservatives who truly believe money is corrupting our political system, they just seem unable or unwilling to make the connection to their beloved free market capitalism.

“The public doesn’t trust politicians and they don’t trust politics,” said Senator Gillibrand. “And they don’t trust it because of the level of money in politics.”

We have a serious disconnect. There are people who say money in politics is corrupting, but then two seconds later say we should have a smaller government, less regulation, and let the market sort it out.

I have news for these people — money in politics is exactly that — the market sorting it out. Where do you think that money comes from? It comes from big corporations and wealthy executives. The money that is breaching the trust between elected officials and the public, and decaying our democracy, is a direct result of unfettered, unregulated free market capitalism.

And as I said already, this detachment, this misunderstanding or lack of acknowledgement of the root problem, is most definitely not the exclusive domain of conservatives or Republicans. Some Democrats and even some liberals are hopelessly corrupted by the system all the same.

We need a complete overhaul of our election system. We need public financing. We might even need term limits. But whatever we do, we need to stop the flow of private money from wealthy, powerful corporate and ideological interests, and reverse the corrosion of American democracy.


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