In the words of President Barack Obama after the 2010 mid-term elections, we Democrats took a “shellacking” this past Tuesday. Two reasons for the Republican landslide stand out: the estimated $4 billion that was spent nationally in all the political campaigns this year, and the reality Democrats ran from, not as, true believers in the Democratic Party creed.
Recent decisions of the U. S. Supreme Court enabled the obscene spending spree that now masquerades as the exercise of free speech. Beginning with the 2010 decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, the Court has held political spending is a form of protected speech, corporations cannot be denied that protection, and financial contributors exercising that freedom can remain anonymous.
It should now be clear by rendering these decisions the Supreme Court has not broadened the free expression of thoughts and opinions but has corrupted the political process of this country. Both Democrats and Republicans, but particularly the likes of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers, throw hundreds of millions of dollars into attack ads to promote their ideological and personal goals. They’re not furthering free elections in local precincts and political districts of their residence but are poisoning the process thousands of miles from where they have legitimate rights in the outcome of elections. The Founding Fathers would be horrified at the evil thrust upon the sacred right of free elections.
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has proposed a constitutional amendment to reverse the work of the Roberts Court on these issues. The Nevada congressional delegation should be the first to introduce this amendment, and it deserves a groundswell of public support.
It hurts this lifelong member of the Democratic Party to say in 2014 Democrats across this nation did not stand up to the challenge confronting us. Instead of running on the significant accomplishments of the Obama administration, most Democratic candidates cowed to the misguided attacks of the Republican Party.
Here is a brief list of what has been accomplished since 2008: the Federal stimulus program prevented the collapse of our financial system and started the road to recovery; there have been five years of steady employment growth, with unemployment now standing at 5.9 percent, less than the accepted full employment rate of 6 percent; corporate profits are at record levels; the stock market is at an all-time high; the Federal deficit is now less than half of what it was in fiscal year 2009; and the first comprehensive national health program has been established and is working, contrary to Republican charges, with 11 million more people now having insurance and the decreasing growth rate of health care costs.
Almost all Democratic candidates ran from this record, two of them even refusing to say whether they voted for President Obama or not. It’s acknowledged a more positive campaign would not have changed many Republican votes. But it would have bolstered Democrats across the nation and gotten out the vote. Democrats lost because more Republicans showed up at the polls, not because we had no record on which to run proudly.
Bo Statham is a retired lawyer, congressional aide and businessman. He lives in Gardnerville and can be reached at email@example.com.