To the editor:
Many Americans say that our country simply cannot afford programs that would serve the common good, such as top-notch schools, mass transit, environmental protection, health care and paying down the national debt. Really? Where did the hundreds of millions (are we at billions, yet?) of dollars that have been put into the current election campaign come from? Does anybody think that the phony statistics, stretched facts and negative political ads are contributing to the progress or ideals of this country?
The need for publicly, not privately, funded elections has never been clearer. The economic elite now control many of our media outlets and have a strangle-hold on both major political parties. They stir us up and make us angry, and we seem to fall into their traps again and again.
Maybe we need to admit that there's something in us that likes to fight. We are like the Roman spectators at the Coliseum. Watching the Presidential debates is like watching the Super Bowl - we get together with friends to cheer one candidate and denigrate the other. The problem, of course, is that we, along with the candidates, are spending our money, time and energy on winning the election, not self-governance.
Fortunately, many good people and organizations like Common Cause and Public Citizen are working to get huge sums of private money out of politics and to counteract the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which gave corporations the privileges of people and opened the floodgates on campaign contributions. If you want to participate in this project, see movetoamend.org or amend2012.org.
The Disclose Act would have been a start, but it was blocked in the Senate by Republicans this past summer. For meaningful reform, we the people will have to get involved. We can hound our Senators and Representatives of both parties until they do something to expose and curb the amount of money spent on election campaigns.
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We have a responsibility to rescue our republic from those who have bought it. The Internet makes it very easy to work together, and if we resist the temptation to enjoy fighting we can get through this last month before the election with courage and hope.
A '60s song keep going through my head: "C'mon, people, now, smile on your brother. Ev'rybody get together, try to love one another right now" (Chet Powers)
CAROLYN C. PETERSON