Politically poor

Do you remember sitting on Santa Claus’s lap and telling him what you wanted for the holidays?

Big corporations do the same, but instead of Santa’s lap, they sit in the laps of politicians and policymakers. This is a democracy right? So we should also be able to tell our politicians our wants, or in the case of Flint, Mich., our needs.

But one thing separates the average civilian from big corporations – money.

screenshot-2017-02-23-08-30-46Why does it matter if a huge corporation slips Santa a huge check while you leave him some cookies? I’m afraid the check holds more weight than sweet treats, my dear reader. Policy makers are often influenced by popular, but totally mysterious, lobbyists.

Lobbyists act on behalf of their organization to influence decisions within the government. The key to having your issues heard is money – and not just a $20.00 tip. Major corporations invest millions of dollars to have their issues paid attention to by the government. (Though political spending isn’t completely transparent, it is possible to find out how much politicians received during their campaigns from lobbyists.)

So what does this mean for the citizen without thousands of dollars? It means no access. Without access, the  interests of everyday citizen cannot be communicated to those in power. So for people impacted by the income inequality in America, there’s no way reach the people who have the ability to help.

One major advantage today is the media. Media platforms such as blogs and social networks can raise awareness about issues and newscasts can highlight protests and other means of communication by average citizens. But where do these issues rank in a policymakers day when there’s $2 million dangling in front of their faces?

Reform for campaign financing has been been pursued by former President Barack Obama, but even he could not prevail in the political climate without funding from lobbyists. Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC further expanded the rules of political spending.

If the interests of the everyday citizen is continuously being pushed to the side by commas and zeros, the public will have no way to get their needs heard, and will spend their lives being politically poor.

By Kayra Clouden

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