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Corruption on top of Corruption

Last week, we passed the one-year anniversary of the failed coup attempt perpetrated by Donald Trump, many members of the Republican party, and an array of conservative figures, public and private. Despite the horrifying spectacle, recorded and broadcast for all to see, along with a plethora of corroborating information, justice comes neither swiftly, nor surely. Indeed, even as one damning piece of evidence after the next is released, confirming many of our worst suspicions of Trump’s desperate attempts to stay in power, there is the sense that many in the Democratic party are pursuing this investigation as an election ploy, rather than seeking accountability for those involved. Accountability, after all, is a dangerous and terrifying notion to most politicians, for what if one day the bell tolls for them?

The failure exemplified above, is yet another facet of the same structural problem we’ve been struggling against for years: our politicians serve themselves and their donor-owners first, while the people remain an after-thought at best. While there are many villains in a tale such as this, their removal and replacement is a necessary, but insufficient component to achieve the change we desire. Instead, the key-takeaway for us, in a united power movement, is that altering the incentive structures of our politicians, leads to different behavior.

A lot of attention is frequently focused on how we put people into elected positions: funding sources, voter access, gerrymandering, and even how the votes are tallied, all remain important ongoing battlegrounds in the fight for a representative government. The siren’s call of corruption, however, does not cease once a person takes office, it only gets more alluring. The temptation to personally profit from one’s power and influence, grows proportionally with one’s ability, and lack of accountability.

One of the more blatant manifestations of this personal profiting from public office ethos, can be seen in the stock market, where Congresspeople are free to own and trade individual stocks with minimal oversight or regulation. If you’re still under any illusions that our politicians would use their power responsibly, look no further than the 52 law makers who violated insider trading laws in the past year, or even more grotesquely, those who traded stocks while downplaying Covid-19 to the public.

Despite surely knowing all this information, Nancy Pelosi, Democratic House Speaker, recently defended the practice, saying “We are a free-market economy. They should be able to participate in that.” Perhaps Speaker Pelosi’s inability to see the obvious corruption of such a system, stems from her own family’s immense wealth accrued in the stock market.

Regardless of her reasons, the American people strongly disagree. Multiple recent polls put support for banning members of Congress from trading stocks at nearly 3 in 4 people, across the political spectrum.

Approve: 5%

Disapprove: 76%

Republican: 78%

Democrat: 70%

Independent: 80%

As we point out each week, the American people are not nearly as divided as the elites would have us believe. In fact, where we most frequently find near unanimity of opinion is on issues pertaining to corruption. In the face of the people’s overwhelming and enduring beliefs, politician’s unwillingness to curb even the most minor excesses of their corruption once again demonstrates that the language of the powerful is money. If we are to communicate clearly, and break this self-serving system, we will have to speak their language. As individuals, our political and economic power can be brushed aside, but when we unite in pursuit of our common goals of a progressive future, in a just and equitable democracy we become a force to be reckoned with! So, join us each week by not shopping on Tuesday, as we unite our economic and political power. Together we can build a durable and sustainable united power movement, which can take on not just the corrupt politicians, but the donor-owners behind them, until we achieve the representative democracy we deserve!

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