BY SHARON MARTIN
We want to tackle the problems. Which one is most pressing? Our refusal to address climate change? The unjust American justice system? The cresting wave of poverty? The breakdown of the agriculture system? The crumbling infrastructure? The number of people we incarcerate rather than educate?
Nothing will get fixed until we remove the corrupting influence of money in politics.
Climate change is real. Powerful people are afraid that cleaning up our act will cost them money, so their money stops any meaningful action. They pay for fake science. They sponsor real science programs to make themselves look legit. They pay off legislators who are willing to look like fools in exchange for campaign contributions.
Three strikes laws, drug laws, and dozens of others were designed to control a certain segment of the population. There’s a reason so many young men of poverty and color are behind bars. We treat the poor to hand-me-down education, hand-me-down jobs, and hand-me-down opportunities. Then, when their backs are against the wall, we shoot them down or lock them up. Our answer? Publicly traded prisons that must increase profits. For-profit schools that focus on tests from subsidiary for-profit publishers.
The private prisons and private schools use our money to pay for their own personal legislators and puppet governors.
Whatever our passions – social justice, public education, a strong middle class, or the strengthening of the American family – we must rally against big money in politics. Money corrupts.
Let’s start a petition and put it to a vote that money is not speech. All campaigns in Oklahoma will be funded by public funds and small, local donations.
No out-of-state money.
Lobbyists can continue to lobby because we believe in free speech, but they can’t fund elections.
We might not be able to limit television advertising, those half truths and all-out lies that attempt to indoctrinate us. But what if we scheduled a healthy series of live debates with unscreened questions?
Published lists of how incumbents vote on the issues should be provided to every voter. If their votes don’t reflect our needs, don’t re-elect them. One chance is enough.
Find your purpose. March for social justice. Urge legislators to limit carbon emissions. Feed the hungry. Buck the system and truly educate the children in your charge. But first, be an activist against big money in politics. It’s the fix that will make other problems easier to solve.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer