Yesterday was ONE’s Lobby Day: I accompanied the Arizonans to their meetings; met Sen. Scott Brown (MA) in the Rotunda of the Russell building, and Sen. Jon Tester (MT) in the elevator of the Hart building; got to stop by and say hi to my friends Doug and Danielle (and got a whistlestop Capitol tour from the latter); and had a thoroughly enjoyable–though exhausting–time. But I headed home at the end of the day with one big question:
The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
Second Inaugural Address;January 20, 1937
President Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. […] Is there no other way the world may live?
“The Chance for Peace,” speech given to the American Society of Newspaper Editors; April 16, 1953
Yesterday, the Lowe for Congress campaign took part in 350.org’s Global Work Party, a collaborative effort by groups all over the world to take practical action to care for our environment. On a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, we joined 7,346 other events in 188 countries by going to help clean up part of the Great Western Trail. See pictures below.
On Tuesday we hosted a 350.org event, entitled Panel for the Planet. It was a great success, with attendees from across the political spectrum all supporting environmental responsibility. Dr. Fred Van Dyke, professor of biology at Wheaton College, was the keynote speaker, and discussed how politics could address the environmental issues facing us.
Ben, speaking afterwards, said:
I’m thankful that everyone could be here and that Dr. Van Dyke could lead us in a frank discussion of what we need to do to create a more just and sustainable future. We desperately need good jobs in Illinois, and the clean energy economy is our best option for putting people back to work while tackling the urgent climate crisis. That is why, unlike my competitor, incumbent Peter Roskam, I strongly support robust clean energy legislation. It is just the right thing to do for our community. Clean energy is not solely a Democratic or Republican priority; it is a moral priority, an American priority, and one that I am proud to champion for our district.
Yesterday Ben spoke at three Political Science/American Government classes at College of DuPage, each time answering questions on his positions, on his thoughts on politics, and on why he decided to run (and to run the way he is running, free from special interests). Something he said really hit home: “Only when we have people who will win the right way will we have people who will govern the right way.”
(Did you notice our campaign pumpkin? Yeah, it wasn’t carved. We might still do that–three weeks to get around to it!)
We recently talked to a local businessman, a Wheaton grad and a pillar of the community—he’s been overseeing his company for over 50 years! He said he’s done with supporting political candidates who simply feed into the broken status quo. But, meeting with him yesterday, he said to Ben, “You’re different. You’re the only one I’m supporting.”
The fact is, Ben’s decision not to take money from interests—to run with integrity and conviction—is refreshing for many people.
If you’d like, you’re welcome to give here. This is a grassroots campaign, energized, supported and run by volunteers. This is your campaign.
In late January 2010, following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling—in which five justices came to the conclusion that “corporations and unions have the same First Amendment rights as individuals, which means that corporations and unions are free to spend unlimited amounts of money independently in elections”—I wrote a blog entitled “Whoever has the most money gets to choose our next president.”
The $80 million spent so far by groups outside the Democratic and Republican parties dwarfs the $16 million spent at this point for the 2006 midterms. In that election, the vast majority of money – more than 90 percent – was disclosed along with donors’ identities. This year, that figure has fallen to less than half of the total, according to data analyzed by The Washington Post.
The trends amount to a spending frenzy conducted largely in the shadows.
The bulk of the money is being spent by conservatives, who have swamped their Democratic-aligned competition by 7 to 1 in recent weeks.
First of all, less transparency in how our government and elections work is most definitely not what is needed.
And second, this sounds less like government of the people, by the people, for the people, and more like a government of special interests, by special interests, for special interests.
We can only hope that people are smart and savvy enough to see through the sham of campaign finance and vote based on values and informed reason next month.