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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Plutocracy

Oklahoma voters go to the polls today to vote in the primaries for state and national offices, including one U.S. Senate race and five U.S. House races.  At least, you'd think there were contested primaries for all five House seats if you looked at the money that's been raised. 

Despite the fact that four of the five 2004 Oklahoma Congressional races are either uncontested or will be blowouts, all five races raked in big bucks from big-time donors across the United States, pulling in over $5 million all told.  Of the $3,485,138 given to candidates by individual donors, the biggest individual donors - those who gave $1000 or more to a candidate - accounted for $2,067,484, according to our analysis of pre-primary FEC reports.

Check out the details at the above link for a detailed break down of $1,000 donors by zip code in the Oklahoma congressional races, as well as analysis of in-state/out-of-state contributions and big donor($200 or more)/smaller donor (less than $200) contributions by congressional race.

Tomorrow, check back to compare how much the candidates raised with how many votes they needed to win their primary.  My prediction: it won't be pretty.

The pols who rake in these boatloads of unneeded cash doubtless have a justification or two for pursuing it.  (Actually, it's probably their staffers who are left to spout the justifications while the pols work their 'victory' parties and shake the hands that feed them.)  Like so much in politics, these rationales are just so much hot air.

Plenty of ways exist for candidates to interact and communicate with voters that don't involve the huge sums of private money which currently distort our electoral process in favor of the rich.  Free airtime, public debates, voter guides, and publicly financed elections not only provide plenty of opportunities for a candidate to communicate their message, but also encourage candidates to actually discuss the issues and problems that we face as a state or country, rather than run campaigns like carnival hawkers or snake-oil peddlers.

Regular Americans deserve better government and better democracy than we're getting.  Unfortunately, the steps we must take to achieve these goals are not in the interest of the politicians, the political parties, or the people that prop them up financially.  WE must take these steps.  WE must band together to rid our elections of the corrupting influence of big money.  WE must raise our voice in opposition to the professional ruling class that wealthy interests would install above us.  And we should do so now, so that the next time elections roll around in Oklahoma, it is the interests of the many in Oklahoma that are served, not the few.







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