Above: John Nichols, at the podium, and Robert McChesney visited Olympia earlier this week to discuss their latest book, "Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media-Election Complex is Destroying America," at The Evergreen State College.
By Janine Unsoeld
Citing the influence money has in politics and the demise of true journalism, authors Robert McChesney and John Nichols fired up the crowd and lit fires under butts talking earlier this week about their new book, Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media-Election Complex is Destroying America, at The Evergreen State College.
McChesney, a graduate of The Evergreen State College, was introduced by his former professor, Tom Rainey, who called McChesney a socially committed student and scholarly hellraiser.
About 100 were in attendance, including 40 students from an Evergreen class called Political Economy of Public Education.
Providing multiple history lessons from the Founding Fathers and the writing of the U.S. Constitution right up to the current City of Seattle city council race between Socialist Kshama Sawant, who recently won the election over incumbent Robert Conlin, both speakers provided a hard hitting, keen analysis of the influence money has on American media and politics.
McChesney said he and Nichols came up with the idea for their latest book when a 2012 Princeton study of democracy and the federal government showed that the bottom 90% of people’s values and concerns were not acknowledged. The book’s introduction by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) says that nothing can pass Congress that is opposed by Wall Street.
McChesney noted that even Jimmy Carter, speaking in Germany in July when he thought he was speaking off the record, said America today is no longer a functioning democracy.
“Half the population is now considered to be at poverty level or low-income…we’re back to where we were in the 1920’s” said McChesney.
Citing a loss of 20,000 journalists since 2009, Nichols, a journalist and correspondent for The Nation, asserted that the ones that remain pretend they’re covering the news.
In reference to television ads passing as news, Nichols said, “The standard of news media now is whether the (advertising) check clears…As journalism disappears, it tries to do it on the cheap, talking about Michelle Obama’s work against obesity issues, talking about Ted Cruz….(but) there’s a grassroots activism - 16 states have petitioned to overturn Citizen United - and yet you aren’t told about it. It’s real, it’s happening, and you need to be a part of it…we’re at the tipping point.”
Move to Amend is a non-partisan coalition of over 300,000 individuals and organizations whose goal it is to amend the US Constitution to end corporate rule and get big money out of politics by overturning the U.S. Supreme court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.
The proposed amendment would overturn court decisions that granted corporations the status of "personhood" which allows unlimited corporate campaign spending.
Nichols said that Washington State is the number one example of Dollarocracy and that their paperback version of Dollarocracy will feature Washington State, the GMO issue and the Grocery Association’s $23 million dollar contribution toward the demise of I-522 - the result of when corporations enter into politics.
“....Their profits were threatened by the reality of labeling. They succeeded in their effort to confuse people so much that people voted against it. That’s Dollarocracy in play. That’s not how it’s supposed to be….”
Nichols asserted that our Founding Fathers did not intend for the Constitution to be a static document. It was amended ten times in the first four years.
“Journalism is so fair and balanced, it treats a lie just like the truth!” exclaimed Nichols, “If we do not acknowledge what’s happening today, that will be our future. Amend the Constitution. Let’s eliminate the Electoral College….Can we do it?”
In closing, Nichols told a story:
In closing, Nichols told a story:
“There’s a girl, seven or eight years old, and she’s walking up some steps. She’s going to work in a mill – she’s not going to school. Her fingers are small, tiny, and good at changing bobbins….sometimes the machines would start up while she was changing the bobbins, and take her finger or hand. And that was OK back then, because if that happened, she could go work in a clothing factory. Jews, Christians, Muslims, all working together. She would go to work on the 10th floor of the factory, and, sometimes, a fire would break out. They’d run to the door, but it was locked shut to prevent workers from sneaking a bathroom break…and they’d either burn alive or jump out the windows….
In the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York, they chose to jump. As mothers came to pick their daughters up off the sidewalks, their grief turned to anger. Women were not allowed to vote then….Over a 10 year period, women organized, and reforms took place. They amended the Constitution three times: to vote, to elect the Senate, and enact taxing and regulatory reforms to tell people they can’t lock the doors at factories, they can’t employ children. Child labor laws were enacted, unions began….
"We are in a similar moment today. Are you the equals of your grandmothers? Your grandfathers?....Five hundred cities have enacted resolutions to amend the Constitution. If you don’t engage now, you’ll be on the sidelines of democracy….”
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of March 25, 1911 killed 123 women and 23 men. The youngest victims were 14 years old.
Move To Amend Efforts in Washington State
The movement to amend the Constitution is active in the South Sound area. Mike Savoca, of the Olympia Move to Amend group was present at McChesney’s and Nichols’ presentation.
“We testified last February before the legislature in favor of a bill, HR 4001 and SR 8002, in favor of a 28th Amendment and were successful in the House but the bill was killed in committee by the Senate Governmental Operations chair, Pam Roach,” said Savoca later.
The Olympia Move to Amend statement says:
As we work for peace, sustainability and human rights, over and over again, we are opposed by the corruption of our political election system by big money and big, multinational, corporations
A corporation is not a person, it does not live, breath, bring forth children nor die. The first and primary objective of multinational corporations is profit and the acquisition of shareholder wealth. Nowhere in the US Constitution does the word "corporation" appear!
A corporation is an invented legal entity. Like all inventions , corporations are not necessarily good nor bad. The regulation of our inventions determines if they will be the source of prosperity…... or our demise.
The unlimited power of multinational corporations and big money in our electoral system threatens our very survival as a society, and as people around the planet.