Meaning of Victory
May 16, 2002
By Joe Vecchio
I hate to break the news to you all, but it's time for a
little reality check.
And as bad as that opening might sound, it gets worse: this
is a hypothetical reality check. A lot is going to
depend upon what happens in November; there's still a lot
of in-fighting going on among the members of the left, and
I don't know what kind of October Surprise the enemies of
freedom have in store for us, but it's liable to be pretty
big considering what's at stake.
But for the sake of argument, and this article, I'm going
to look on the bright side and assume that we will, for the
time being, drive the enemies of freedom from power. But that's
just the beginning. There is so much work to do, so much damage
to be undone. The sad truth is that all our initial victory
would give us is the freedom to actually get on with the work
instead of standing on the sidelines watching the fanatics
wreak havoc with the world. But if our history has shown us
anything, it's shown us that we're not only capable of rebounding,
we excel at it - when the need comes upon us we're capable
of extraordinary things.
So bearing that in mind, these are some of the policies I
believe we need to force the Dems to put into effect. These
suggestions are hardly complete and hardly exclusive, but
I think they are a good beginning.
First Things First
We have to recognize a simple fact: no changes are going
to be able to take place until we restructure both the way
political campaigns are financed and how the lobbying system
works. Current campaign finance laws are ineffective and barely
enforced anyway, we have to change that. We have to force
the enemies of freedom to do battle with us on our
terms, not theirs. We have to cripple them by denying them,
as much as possible, the advantage their extraordinary wealth
gives them. To that end we need to repeal the '75 SUN-PAC
laws and make corporate lobbying illegal again. Corporations
currently form an overwhelming majority of all PACs, and they
donate more than three-quarters of all campaign contributions
to political parties. Money should be its own reward, political
power should be separate from it. I realize that, given human
nature, we'll never completely get rid of the role of money
in politics, but we can diminish it greatly, rendering it
far less relevant than it is today.
We have to convert lobbying from a system of legalized bribery
into what it ought to be: a way for a special interest to
inform and enlighten the government on a particular issue,
sending experts to testify at committees, vigorously representing
their client's point of view. It should be flat-out illegal
for any elected or appointed official to receive financial
favors from lobbyists in any form, be it free plane rides
and "working vacations" to donations to their campaign coffers.
It should also be flat-out illegal for an elected or appointed
official to earn money giving speeches. There was actually
a bill to do this very thing years ago - in return for giving
up this money Congressmen were offered a decent raise. The
radio talk shows gained an early "victory" by harping on the
pay raise part and scaring people into writing their representatives,
stopping the bill. Let's bring that bill back and pass it
Free The Airwaves
We need to dismantle the corporate conglomerates that monopolize
the media, freeing the airwaves for competitive entertainment
or journalism as opposed to bottom-line profiteering and propaganda.
Our need for responsible and truthful journalism is more important
than Rupert Murdoch's need to use the airwaves as his own
personal propaganda machine. The airwaves are public property,
and the broadcast media has a duty to use them responsibly.
Make purchasing airtime for political campaigns illegal, and
use PBS as the official channel for election campaigns. Let's
increase the amount of funding to PBS a hundred-fold and parcel
off campaign time for all political parties which meet specific
Corporate Reform and Taxation
The "Invisible Hand" of Adam Smith quickly becomes an "Invincible
Fist" when a small number of businesses monopolizes the marketplace.
Make a better mousetrap, the saying goes, and the world will
beat a path to your door. But we all know the reality as it
now stands: build a better mousetrap and the ACME Mousetrap
Company will crush you so hard and so fast you won't know
what hit you. Let's get rid of loopholes that allow big corporations
to use offshore shelters to avoid paying taxes. Let's force
businesses to be more open about their accounting practices,
so they're more responsible to their shareholders. These offshore
shelters also are the best way terrorists can funnel money
into their organizations, and stopping them is even more important
than preventing the outrageous white-collar crime of robbing
Americans of billions in taxes.
Let's also force corporations to end the practice of issuing
stock options or other hidden forms of payments. A CEO's salary,
like anyone else, ought to be tied to their performance, and
incompetence shouldn't be rewarded. Let's also start prosecuting
these white collar crimes in criminal court, and make it clear
that the penalty for these crimes will be just as harsh as
those for other forms of robbery. The Law has to apply to
everyone equally or there is no law.
And while we're at it, let's overhaul, and more importantly,
simplify the tax system. Most people don't begrudge the taxes
they pay as much as they loathe the process of figuring out
how much they owe to begin with. The IRS has already made
great strides by allowing many people to file over the computer
or via telephone, let's do what we can to get more people
in on that.
If we're going to elect an idiot, we should at least be sure
we're electing an idiot. We need to create a standardized,
simplified method of voting to replace the outdated and often
chaotic methods currently being employed. The Feds will foot
the bill so that the crybaby states won't scream about "unfunded
mandates" or whatever crapola they come up with whenever we
want to get rid of corruption at the local level. Let's bring
the voting system out of the nineteenth century and into the
These are, of course, short term goals. It's not enough to
simply deny our enemies unlimited power, we must look towards
the future, not just of the country but of the human race.
Terrorism, environmental issues, economics, these are things
that affect all of us, regardless of what nation we live in.
It's time to begin the process of creating a unified global
government. Our foreign policy should be geared towards that,
slowly, to be sure, but inevitably, because a single global
government and economy is inevitably on its way. The question
is, will it be a government that has its foundation in the
people that govern it, or will it be a tool of the very wealthy
to perpetuate a neo-medieval system where the wealthy few
enslave everyone else? The former is what we have to fight
for, the latter is what we have to fight against.
We have to recognize that the rights we have, the things
we believe in, are not reserved for the citizens of the US
alone, they should be applied equally to every human being.
If we refuse to include one group of people then we will never
be free ourselves. And as much as some of us hate to hear
it, we must be unafraid to use military might when necessary.
We must use our military responsibly, but remember that a
nation that is afraid to defend itself cannot survive.
And when the time comes, when humanity is at last unified,
even if it doesn't happen in our lifetimes or in our children's
lifetimes, we need to begin the process of exploring the ultimate
frontier, the vastness of outer space. We need to turn our
swords not into plowshares, but into rockets.
And even as we work, we have to be aware of the fact that
the enemies of freedom will always be there. They will never
be wholly defeated, and they will always wield power disproportionate
to their numbers, and we must always guard against their inevitable
return. The meaning of victory is work and sacrifice, but
it is also hope.
Joe Vecchio is a novice to political activism who is angry
at the direction this country is taking.