Post Classifieds

We are the 1%

By Phil Chevalier
On January 24, 2012

Herman Cain received 1 percent of the vote this Saturday in

the South Carolina Republican Primary, and Newt Gingrich

won with 40 percent. This is 99.9 percent hilarious and 100 percent ridiculous. Those 1 percent of voters did not actually vote for Herman Cain, who is no longer even running. They voted against the way politics happens in

America, and it's all a part of Stephen Colbert's elegant

satirical creation. Colbert, by hijacking Cain's spot on the

South Carolina ticket, is shedding much needed light on the

way political campaigns are funded, which is unbelievably

similar to, if not simply the exact same thing as, money

laundering. Herman Cain (Colbert) lost, but the 1 percent

of votes he received is glaringly larger than the percentage

of "people" allowed a financial voice in American politics. In

other words, those descrying that "the 1 percent" control

everything are wrong: according to economist Paul

Krugman in an Op-Ed for the New York Times it's actually

something more like .1 percent. But who are these people

with ungodly sums of money? Toward what face can I funnel all my angst? No face. Only the logos on everything I own. They're called corporations, and they're not people, actually — only legally, according to the Supreme Court.

That's the punch line of the campaign finance system in America, which is a huge joke. If you don't laugh when you hear Mitt Romney say, "Corporations are people, my

friend," you don't get the joke, but fear not; it's not hard to get. Also, if you're more into social issues like defending the sanctity of marriage, there ought to be nothing more infuriating than the corporate goals that most "family

values" politicians are paid to defend once in office. What's more threatening to marriage than the constant barrage of sexually themed advertisements that are used to sell culture to kids? Better yet, what's more threatening to

marriage than Newt Gingrich? What about a foreclosure on a home: Do you think a foreclosure would wreck a marriage? Colbert's point boils down to the role of what are called Super PACs (political action committees).

Super PACs are non-profit organizations, which means that

they are not required to reveal a list of donors according to section 501(c) of the tax code. Any person — a vague term these days — can donate any amount of money anonymously to a Super PAC, who in turn can then

take that money and use it to fund a political campaign,

as long as they do not "coordinate" with the candidate.

In the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court decided that corporations have the same rights to free speech as people, and since money counts as speech, and they have unspeakably large amounts of it, their voices are much louder than mine and yours. We also don't get to know which corporation's voice we're listening to, which is horrifying. The grift is pretty simple: rather than corporations coming out and supporting any particular candidate, which would raise eyebrows and force them to pick only one, corporations

give money to third party groups to do it for them — someone with a totally different image and a totally different name, who is not legally required to disclose the origin of

the money. They don't donate because they're good

citizens. They do it because they have a lot of money riding on policy, and they demonize left wing regulations for extremely selfish reasons. It's all very man-behindthe-

curtain. Karl Rove operates a well-funded Super PAC,

but so does Jon Stewart, who inherited his from Colbert then he decided that he might try running for president. It's called the "Definitely Not Coordinating with Steven Colbert Super PAC," and it's definitely coordinating with Steven Colbert. The two have discussed political plans together, in the same room, on national television. It turns out that in legal jargon the word "coordinate" is not just loosely

defined. It's next to meaningless. Candidates can absolutely coordinate with Super PACs, and they do, which means that the laws protecting Stewart and Colbert from facing criminal charges are the same ones keeping this absurd system alive. It's hilarious when they do it because it's evil when politicians do it, which they do, or else they

wouldn't have been elected. All of this begs one question:

Why do corporations even put on the political show? Why do

they give us the illusion that we're voting for certain things,

namely social issues like abortion and gay marriage,

when these issues probably don't matter to them at all? It's enough to make a man a bit paranoid, if you ask me.


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