These Are Our Demands

We are the 99%, and we have demands. We are educated, informed, and mad as hell. Our grievances with the state of the economy, and corruption, and gridlock pervading our Government are multi-fold. It is our duty as concerned citizens to pressure our elected Representatives into pushing for legislation that steers our political process toward a more fair and equitable state. Reversing a total descent into Plutocracy revolves primarily around two issues. Let's touch on both of them.

1. Campaign Finance Reform

The current system makes our political process a corrupt joke. FECA (the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1972) required candidates to disclose campaign fund sources. The subsequent McCain-Feingold Law, thirty years later, limited soft money donation, but these restriction have merely opened up new ways for donors to abuse the system. PACS (Political Action Committees), anonymous subsidiaries and shell companies are now formed for the express purpose of obliquely funneling anonymous donor money into campaigns.

Additionally, the recent 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court ruling threw out some of McCain-Feingold's most important provisions. Campaign finance legislation, in other words, is currently in tatters, and needs to be looked at carefully. Currently, the lack of significant campaign finance reform in this country is allowing big Corporations to tip the scales in favor of their candidates by giving them more visibility, a larger platform and more finely honed marketing. Yes, voters can vote for whomever they'd like, and Corporations don't force anyone to vote for specific candidates, but voters base their decision on the candidate with the most polished, accessible platform. Candidates with this sort of skewed Corporate backing have undue advantage. That's the reality now, and it needs to change.

2. Lobby reform

Arm in arm with PAC-related reform is legislation aimed to make the activities of lobbyists (who are often former members of Congress, or quite close to current members) more transparent. There's been a spate of legislation in the last ten years aimed and restricting the carte blanche Lobby culture in Washington, with mixed results. Much Lobby reform legislation fails to make a vital distinction between a Corporate funded professional lobbyist and a concerned private citizen writing his or her Congressional office. As it stands now, despite the Obama Administration's pledge to nurture a more ethical and transparent culture, Lobby culture and the corruption it inspires has entrenched itself so deeply into politics that the issue requires a scalpel, not a band-aid.

There are numerous other issues, including unemployment, tax reform, deficit spending, and a larger discussion about the role of Government society, that deserve to be heard. Those discussions are ongoing. If the protesters are being asked to provide succinct, immediate demands, however, campaign finance and lobby reform are an excellent way to start. Much of the disenfranchisement in this country - not just for Occupy Wall Street protesters, but for some in the Tea Party Movement as well - can be traced to either of those issues.


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