The Dred Scott Reference
In his October 8th debate Bush referred to the Dred Scott decision in answer to the qualifications of any one he would appoint to the Supreme Court. He said he would not appoint somone who would approve the legal reasoning in the Dred Scott Case. The infamous Dred Scott decision in 1857 by the Supreme Court said a slave who traveled to a free territory still remained the property of his owner. The media immediately saw this as a Christian Fundamentalist anti-choice code word that Bush would not appoint anyone to the Supreme Court that would uphold Roe v. Wade on abortion rights. The analogy is that Roe puts a mothers right to autonomy over an unborn child’s right to life much like a slave owners property rights were paramount to a slave’s right to freedom. Everyone who reads the newspapers knows Bush’s beliefs on abortion so why put it in code words that he will not appoint anyone that condones Roe v. Wade. Should a president of the United States speak to one segment of the country in an exclusionary manner? Obviously the answer is no. However Bush knew there were more than sixty million people watching and he did not want to openly state his intentions before such a large audience. Many women voters are pro- choice because they want the final say over their bodies even if they are against abortion on moral or legal grounds. Therefore he used code words to signal his intentions to his core constuency while making an ambiguous statement as if he was saying he wouldn’t appoint anyone to the Supreme Court who supported the reasoning for slavery. Bush’s lack of candor on this issue seems to be a talisman of his administration’s practice of saying one thing but doing another. Bush is probably the most deceitful president on abortion, which is the most divisive national issue since slavery.
In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention Bush mentioned faith based belief twelve times and used many coded references. One was “many hills to climb” a reference of the Israelites escape from slavery and “seeing the valley below” a reference to Moses vision of the Promised Land. This again reassured the Fundamentalists that Bush would help Israel control the Holy Land.
Instead of building a broad consensus, as most politicians try to do, Bush is creating an “us” versus “them” mentality amongst voters who are faith-based believers and voters who maybe religious but do not subscribe to all the tenets of faith-based belief.
Why does he have to keep reassuring his evangelical and fundamentalist Christian base? Perhaps this is a concession he has to make for his re-election, but it is making him one of the most divisive presidents of this century and the last .
Religious Significance Of The Biblical Code Words.
Wonder where all this is going? Bush states he is a born again Christian with fundamentalist beliefs. One of the those beliefs is the Rapture which is the time of the second coming when Jesus returns and takes the believers into Heaven and leaves the non believers behind. This can only happen when the Jews are back in control of the Holy Land as described in the Bible. Satan is believed, by the Fundamentalists, to be fighting to prevent this from happening. Hence Satan caused the Diaspora and the Holocaust in the past and is now responsible for the conflict in the Holy Land. After the final battle when Satan and his forces are defeated the Jews will be once again in control of Zion. Then Jewish prayers to God for the appearance of the Messiah will be answered. Since the Fundamentalists believe the Messiah is Jesus Christ this will be the Second Coming when the believers will be Raptured into Heaven.
Influence On Bush’s Policies.
One wonders how much of Bush’s religious beliefs influence his Middle East foreign policy or if his foreign policy is a callous method of gathering votes. The new conservative (neo-cons) thinkers see American dominance in this century because there is no other super power to oppose our policies. One of these policies is making the Mid-East secure for our Allies, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and American economic interests. This fits neatly with fundamentalist beliefs on the Holy Land.
How far will Bush go to please his Fundamental Christian constituency? Since he took office the Israeli Palestinian war has turned worse and he has made no attempt to establish peace there or at least broker a cessation of hostility.
Perhaps Bush sees this as the final battle when the Jews will come into complete control of the land once known as Zion, which would include all of the Left Bank. This would make his core constituency happy. However it is unlikely it would ensure peace in the Middle East. As we have seen terrorists do not need a country, just hate and a bomb.
Therefore Bush may have motivations other than the interests of the average American citizen on abortion and with respect to Iraq, Israel and Saudi Arabia. If nothing else he has broken the unwritten rule since the inception of this country not to inject religious belief into American politics and that can only be divisive considering the number of different faiths in this country and the world and the degree of certitude with which they are held. Remember this is the man who says Jesus told him to be president and that he consulted not with his own father but the Higher Father before attacking Iraq. The result: the country is divided, the world is divided and it is less safe now for people who value freedom and democracy .
Campaign Finance Reform. Why It Is An Up Hill Fight? Reform Has To Come From Without. Supreme Court? Internet?
“During the month of February (2008), for example, his (BARRACK OBAMA) campaign raised a record-setting $55 million—$45 million of it over the Internet—without the candidate himself hosting a single fund-raiser. The money just came rolling in.” ATLANTIC MONTHLY.
Present State 10/04
As it stands now there is a limit on campaign contributions but no limit on campaign expenditures. In essence this was the ruling by the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo 441U.S. 1 (1976). Since then the cost of running for office has skyrocketed because there are no spending limits. This means millionaires can fund their own campaigns and often do so while the average person who wants to run has to seek limited contributions. Even those successfully elected have to spend most of their time raising funds or be beholden to those who can raise funds. Incumbents seem to be best able to raise funds from individuals, corporations, lobbyists and PACs. 90% of the time the candidate who spends the most money wins. That is why incumbents win 85 % of the time because the very fact of their incumbency makes it easier to raise money by sponsoring legislation or voting favorably for the interests in a position to fund their next campaign.
Reform By Congress
Will Congress ever change this situation? Not likely since they are all incumbents with the advantage of raising money by the power of their office. Why would they want to vote for any measure that would level the playing field for a challenger? Congress keeps talking about bills to change campaign finance but each bill leaves so many loopholes that nothing changes. The incumbents raise the most money and win in their gerrymandered districts. Moneyed interests have the greatest influence in local, state and federal politics.
Now two federal circuit cases, one by the City of Albuquerque(10th Circuit struck city spending limits ) and the other by the State of Vermont (2nd Circuit allowed state spending limits) are in conflict. The City of Alberquerque has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a hearing on the issue. Supreme Court watchers think it is likely the Court will grant Certiorari to the petitioner in this case.
What will be the likely out come of a new U.S Supreme Court decision? Well the Supreme Court proved in 2000 that it was not unwilling to intervene in the electoral process when things go awry. Will the Supreme Court rule in favor of spending limits when it will certainly alienate the incumbents in Congress? Probably it will come up with a compromise ruling allowing states and local governments to impose spending limits on local races if they desire to do so and leave federal election spending to the discretion of Congress. There is plenty of Constitutional language to allow states to designate their own election rules as long as they don’t conflict with the Constitution. The same goes for the states deciding how members of Congress will be elected in their state so long as there is no conflict with federal legislation, lack of discrimination and a crude allowance for one-man one vote. So will anything change? Not much, the Supreme Court is not an instrument of drastic change. There may have to be a series of cases over a number of years to limit campaign spending on the federal level in any significant manner. Also it is unlikely to change the manner in which money is presently raised. As far as presidential elections go spending doesn’t matter in the general election. This year both sides have raised over 300 million each. It is the method and source of funding that matters.
What about the primaries? Well this is an interesting question. Howard Dean was able to raise forty million or so over the Internet. Will a candidate in the future be able to duplicate this feat? Joe Trippi, Dean’s campaign manager thinks so. In fact he foresees a third party emerging with Internet donations of $100 on average from two or three million donors. However this is this probably not realistic. Internet donors have not shown any interest in working outside the two party system so far.
Ralph Nader is such a third party candidate now with a populist theme like Dean yet his campaign fund reports it has only raised about 2.8 million for the current election. According to Opensecrets.org these funds came mostly in small amounts from individuals or small businesses.
Wonder why Nader has not raised more through Internet contributions? Well MoveOn.org is not supporting him in fact they are spending their money to defeat Bush with negative ads. Perhaps this is because George Soros and Peter Lewis each gave MoveOn 5 million for this purpose. It seems they are getting the majority of their money from big donors and not $100 donations from users of the Internet. MoveOn reports twelve million raised as a PAC in this phase of the election. Nothing close to the forty or fifty million raised in the primaries by Dean.
Nader has not captured the imagination of Internet bloggers either. It seems his anti- corporate campaign theme would be attractive to the those who comprise the Internet community many of whom have an anti- establishment bent and are enthusiastic about changing the status quo in general and politics in particular. However Nader has been painted as a spoiler.
The Internet constituency has not backed either candidate the way it did Dean. Opensecrets.org reports Kerry has about 35,000 individual contributions of two thousand dollars or greater and that Bush has over sixty thousand individual contributions of two thousand or more. Both candidates got the contributions from traditional sources.
Why did Dean capture the Internet community’s imagination and not Nader. Well Dean came out early against the war. Dean is a lot younger and at first he seemed to have honesty and character. Dean also ran as a traditional candidate in the Democratic primaries not has a third party candidate. He appeared to answer questions without guile or having rehearsed the answer before a political consultant. However as he tried to broaden his base he lost his sense of a new man with egalitarian ideals. Nader comes on as an old pro. But a cynical old pro whose ideas never moved beyond the interest group stage to become the foundation for a political party or movement. He chooses not run in the primaries for nomination as a traditional party candidate. Also many people believe he unjustly cost Gore the election in 2000 by being a third party candidate with no chance of winning. In fact he obtained over ninety thousand votes in Florida and Bush took the state by five hundred and thirty-eight. If one considers the fact that most of these votes would have gone to Gore rather than Bush then he did cost the Democrats the election and caused all the dismal policies of Bush that followed with severe economic, environmental and foreign policy consequences that hurt middle and lower income people. Those are the people Nader says he wants to help. Therefore Nader’s candidacy in 2000 and the current election is seen as a disaster even by his former supporters in 2000.
Will this happen again. Will the Internet allow a large group to pool their money to back a candidate? Well they have not backed the Democratic Party like they did Dean. Why? It appears those who donated to Dean realized he was not fully vetted and they put their money on the wrong horse when he self destructed on television on the night of the Iowa Caucuses. Joe Trippi says this self-destruction was helped along by big media replaying Dean’s sophomoric concession speech over and over again. Yet it was Dean who failed to register favorably with the main line media and this failure cost him his chance to be a true contender for the Democratic nomination. His source of funds dried up and it was all over. The Internet gave a dark horse a chance and he blew it. Will it give again? Well it hasn’t in this election so far because while it can give a long shot a chance in the primaries it can’t trump tradtional donors and media coverage in the general election. What about in 2008? Yes, there will be an Internet funded candidate who will have chance in the primaries to prove himself worthy, but he must capture the mainline media’s approval. Internet support by iself is not enough.
Why will there be an Internet candidate in the primaries? Because it can be done. The organizations and people are out there to do it and the method of financing campaigns now is undemocratic and exclusionary. The Internet massing of $100 donors (Dean had about 600,000) frees politicians from being the lackeys of special interest groups and gives them a cleaner source of funds.The question now is whether a viable candidate will emerge with Internet support who can go all the way. The same politicians we have now would be orientated to the public welfare if they knew that campaign funds in large amounts were coming from a broader democratic base such as Internet donors. If they fail to become oriented to the public welfare the money will go to elect someone who will. The Internet is becoming influential but not decisive in politics. However the process is not over yet. It remains to seen just how influential The Internet will be.