The 2014 Midterm Elections, Incorporated

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2014 1120midterm(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)In Washington, it doesn’t matter if you are a Republican, Democrat or independent: Money reigns supreme. During the last election, a number of global corporations contributed to both candidates in hotly contested Senate races. Corporations don’t really care who does their bidding.

This year’s record-shattering $4 billion midterm elections sent a toxic message to average Americans: It doesn’t matter who won, when elections are funded by global corporations and special interests, everyone loses.

In Washington, it doesn’t matter if you are a Republican, Democrat or independent: Money reigns supreme. During the last elections, a number of global corporations contributed to both candidates in the hotly contested Senate races.

The multinational law firm DLA Piper spent money on both the Democrat and Republican Senate challengers in Alaska, Iowa and Kentucky. The Blackstone Group, a large investment management firm, gave away thousands of dollars to both of the main competitors in Louisiana, New Hampshire and Colorado’s Senate races. In Arkansas, both the American Resort Development Association and Google Inc provided funds to Sen. Mark Pryor (D) along with his main opponent, Tom Cotton (R). Intel Corp bet on both teams in the Senate battleground states of Colorado and New Hampshire.

For these corporations and many more, partisan politics don’t motivate them. They will pay court to whoever will get them what they want once elected into office. That’s because they know money talks. But the average American can’t afford top dollar donations or high-priced lobbyists: All they have is their voice and their vote. Our pay-to-play political system that says money equals voices has drowned out “we the people” and eclipsed the value of that vote.

A poll by Democracy Corps asked liberal and conservative voters what factors influenced how members of Congress vote and 90 percent of the answers went to special interest groups, their lobbyists and campaign donors.

Voters are right to distrust our unbalanced political system. These races paint a picture of a flourishing plutocracy – where only the wealthy can pay to have access and influence in our government. And when big money takes over our elections, we surrender crucial elements of our democratic ideals. Demoralized constituents stop voting. (These midterms had the worst voter turnout in 72 years.) We even miss out on good candidates who have outstanding merits, but are short on funds.

But there is good cause for hope. After all the sewer-money-funded attack ads, Americans of all stripes are ready to put an end to the nonsense and fight to get big money out of politics.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) recently said that he was “displeased” by the Supreme Court decision Citizens United and that “the public over time is going to rebel against this. But that’d be up to the public.” Well, 78 percent of Americans want to reduce the influence of money in politics and many are fighting hard to reverse this perverse trend in our government.

Sixty-seven percent of voters in Tallahassee, Florida, passed new ethics rules to reform campaign spending. Eleven Wisconsin communities successfully passed referenda to amend the US Constitution to overturn Citizens United, which allowed corporations to give unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. Anti-corruption measures were also passed in Massachusetts, Ohio and Illinois, along with more than 550 other towns and cities.

And more than 25,000 people across the country are stamping messages like “Not to be Used for Buying Elections” on dollar bills with StampStampede.org. It’s monetary jujitsu. We’re turning money into millions of miniature billboards to create a mass visual demonstration of support to get money out of politics.

Corruption may still be the norm in Washington, but the tide is turning away from big money and toward people power.