Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Buy a Democrat, I mean, Invest in Democracy!

The Washington Post says that the US financial sector is divesting itself of investments in Democratic futures.
A revolt among big donors on Wall Street is hurting fundraising for the Democrats' two congressional campaign committees, with contributions from the world's financial capital down 65 percent from two years ago.
Donations to Democratic Candidates have fallen precipitously, making this a watershed moment for those with a venture capital approach to democracy.

The opportunity now exists for Centre-left coalitions to step in and replace this money. I'm talking to everyone here. This is a potential game-changer. Large chunks of reliable cash are vital to maintaining a Democratic majority, and in order to maintain that cash flow... well, there's an old saying I remember from way back when...

"When you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow."

Cash always comes with strings. Now, the banking industry mistook them for cables of infinite strength, tried to yank too hard and are now trying to buy a new set of loyal voting machines. 

If you don't pay attention, they will get it during this midterm election. The problem for the REST of the human race is what else they get with it - a narrow-minded, social-conservative, moderate to outright screaming racist US legislature absolutely committed to addressing every conceivable problem in the most expensive and most violent way possible. 

A legislature dedicated to a foreign policy centred around "American Exceptionalism," - which seems to be increasingly devolving into "Manifest Destiny."  Such folks will tell you with a straight face that the US's role in the world is to "Make the world safe for Democracy." Ghu knows, they aren't shy about sending money, guns and bombs to alter the natural course of human events in favour of keeping the price of oil, gas and fruit at "acceptable" levels. 

So how about it? What about "Making Democracy Safe for the Rest of the World?"  

When elected officials seriously and publicly toy with the idea of dealing with the US immigration crisis with land mines - they are seriously off their fucking nut and that's a climate in which both Prudent and Conservative to cut off their Viagra Prescriptions and send them all to an ignominious retirement in Arizona. For there is nothing conservative, fiscal or social, about "solutions" that will address threatening economic and social collapse by blowing up what civilization remains.  That is the situation currently in Arizona, and along the Southern US border. 

Now, it's all very well to jump up and down and shriek about such things - and that seems to be the entire contribution to the discussion from many on the so-called left. For some reason, there's a surplus of political and economic theorists, but when it comes down to actual practical every day ways of creating solutions that are economically, politically and socially viable - that takes a more Conservative mindset. Or it could be that after 40 years without any much power, they have no real idea what to do with it.

The trick with Conservatives is to get them to honestly acknowledge that that gawd-awful stinky orange recliner has got to freakin' go. Conservatives get attached to ideas, to the extent that is beyond irrational. Perhaps one of those ideas is how campaigns are financed. 

The question, of course, is how to do this legally. I suggest some form of crowd-sourcing, possibly with a stock brokerage analogue, feeding into a tightly regulated and properly constituted PAC. Rather than donating to a particular candidate, you buy shares in a particular issue, and money is donated to those in office who are committed to those issues in proportion to their performance. Yes, much like the National Rifle Association does - but on far more issues, in a far more dynamic way - and without regard to any particular political alignment. 

Say there's a candidate that will pledge to support this or that interest. Let us say they have a fondness for a particular nation, or are familiar with the concerns of a particular constituency, industry or group. Let's say they wish to advocate for hemp based and other renewable fuel feed-stocks. People in the industry, potential consumers, national security voters and hemp legalization activists could all agree that this was a general issue to support, even if they differed on sub-categories. 

Funds would be dispersed and volunteer activism directed in accordance to performance on issues, rather than party ideology. 

For my Conservative minded readers, relax. It's a "supply side" solution. 

It's said that the only honest politician is one who stays bought. Let me take that idea one step further. Is it any more absurd to have a senator for the financial services industry than a "Republican?" Is it any more corrupt for the Congressman from Boeing/Microsoft to sit in assembly than a vaguely Democratic candidate who relies absolutely on support from Boeing/Microsoft workers? I don't see how - and it appears the Supreme Court concurs. Indeed, there's nothing dishonest about it, so long as it's clear that's what's done and there's a mechanism for reporting and tracking. Nor should we limit this to citizens.

It's not at all unreasonable for non-citizens and foreign powers to attempt to peacefully influence the course of US economic and foreign policy, considering what the price of failure can be. And the broader the base of influence, the better - for large corporations and various governments may or may not share the interests of the people they theoretically represent. One could hardly suggest with a straight face that British Petroleum is a particularly good representative of the interests of the employees of BP, much less the consumers of BP products. 

It provokes as many covert smiles as suggesting that the Likud properly represents the interests of Israelis of Palestinian decent on the world stage. 

But to be entirely fair - I see no reason why it should be limited to investing in US political outcomes. We have our own scandal up here, regarding some politicians being "under the influence" of "foreign interests." 

Well, I'm appalled, of course! 


But then I think of it a little more deeply and wonder if I'm better served by an MLA quietly taking money from the timber industry, or influenced by a think-tank that's closely linked with US NeoConservatives than one who's being supported by, oh, let's say, our largest Pacific Rim trading partner, say in a riding that's heavily dependant upon international trade. 

On balance, I think I'd be best served by knowing who's buying, who's selling - and being able to buy futures in MY future. And I think that's a healthy investment in an increasingly global market of ideas.

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