I am currently reading volume II of The Open Society and Its Enemies, a book that I think everyone should read at some point in their lives (vol. I included).
The book is filled with perspicacious passages, but this one I felt compelled to share:
‘Once we have achieved formal freedom, we can control vote-buying in every form. There are laws to limit the expenditure on electioneering, and it rests entirely with us to see that much more stringent laws of this kind are introduced. The legal system can be made a powerful instrument for its own protection. In addition, we can influence public opinion, and insist upon a much more rigid moral code in political matters. All this we can do; but we must first realize that social engineering of this kind is our task, that it is in our power, and that we must not wait for economic earthquakes miraculously to produce a new economic world for us, so that all we shall have to do will be to unveil it, to remove the old political cloak.’ -Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, vol. II (pp. 337)
As many of my readers already know: we had laws in the United States which prohibited the unregulated flow of cash and contributions into our political campaigns. We also experienced an economic earthquake in 2008 which, rather than change the rules of the game to punish the economic, financial and political predators; this earthquake led to an even greater enabling of those predators.
Americans need to recognize that our economic, political and legal systems have been corrupted and that we the people have allowed this corruption. We have tolerated it. We have refused to punish the perpetrators and so we continue to see our elections function as a fire sale to the highest bidders. It need not be this way. There are signs that in local politics the power of small donors is being cultivated by candidates of principle (see the Minneapolis, Minnesota city council campaign occurring right now). But these encouraging developments are still a far cry from a national movement to rollback the corruption of our politics, particularly the push for an amendment to reverse the 2010 judgment of the Supreme Court of the United States in Citizens United.
The most radical aspect of the American republic is the very thing that oligarchs and predators in our politics and political economy exploit in order to cloak their greed: We the people. It is still our government; it is still our country; it is still a government than in both principle and in law remains committed to democratic and republican principles.
But the sleeping giant must awake.