Q: How many licks does it take to get to the middle of a Tootsie-Pop?
No, not that question, I was just jerkin’ your chain. But there is a very serious question in politics, one that has been brewing, in fact becoming more prevalent as time has gone on. And that question is, “How do we get ;big money; out of politics?”
We thought we had a kind of a handle on it for a while there, with legislation strictly controlling corporate campaign contributions, but then the Supreme Court channeled their inner Mitt Romney with Citizens United, and suddenly “corporations were people too,” and we were off to the races.
But the first, vague crack in the corporate money wall may have appeared on Tuesday night. To be sure, it;s not a sea change, more like those first few snowflakes that start rolling downhill, building towards that avalanche that will wipe out a Swiss village, keeping the Saint Bernards busy for a while.
Depending on the final vote tally, next January anywhere from 32-41 new freshman Democratic members of the House of Representatives will be sworn in. And almost all, if not all of them share one thing in common. They are not politicians. What they are is citizens who honestly want to affect positive change in Washington. In other words, honest people, better known as the Typhoid Mary of politics. It was the highlight of their stump speech, the first line in their opening statement of every debate, :My campaign has not accepted, nor will it accept $1 in corporate or special interest donations. I am beholden to you, the constituents, not special interests.” That is the kind of statement that gives the ordinary, run of the mill, bottom-of-the-litter-box politicians night sweats.
And that principle didn’t end on election night, or at least for their sake I hope it didn’t. Once they’re sworn in, their first couple of weeks in office are going to be a whirlwind of activity. Not on the floor of the House, but in their offices. A nonstop parade of greasy looking characters , with shiny suits and pinky rings, all touting special interests, and all carrying the promise of donation caboodle for their reelection campaigns. If you think that 32-41 out of 435 is an insignificant number, just ask John Boehner or Paul Ryan how weak and ineffective the Tea Party caucus was. You show me the roster of names of the new Democratic representatives, and I’ll show you the newest class of”F” grades on the NRA’s next report card.
These people are an enigma to the lobbying class in Washington, mainly because they aren’t in it for the money or the power. They are in a precarious position. They presented themselves to the voters as principled candidates, and they know that if they could be elected, so can the next baker, or nurse, or architect that will spring up if they fail to live up to expectations. They are immune to the temptations of Washington simply because that is what they came to Washington to change.
This is going to be a problem for surviving Republican lawmakers. If for no other reason than because they are such a novelty, these principled politicians are going to make news, simply by expressing their views and ideas in public. And nothing breeds success like success. Things are not going to get better in Trumpmenistan over the next two years, and their districts are full of people who will likely be chomping at the bit to take up the mantle of change in 2020.
And it’s not just GOP House members who will be hearing footsteps behind them, Democratic incumbents are by no means safe. Just ask Joe Crowley about that one. Their own constituents are going to be watching them closely, to see how they stack up against this exciting, earnest new breed, and if they are found wanting, a primary could well be just around the corner.
And one ore reason for optimism. On election night, the Democrats flipped almost 400 state legislative seats around the country. You know what those seats are? They are the Democratic “bench: for 2020 and the years beyond. And if they were able to win state district seats by disdaining corporate booty, what makes you think that they will run their campaigns for their next step up the ladder any differently?
People have been sick of “politics as usual” for years now, and their apathy towards the system was as much a result of their inability to change it as anything else. But if the excesses of Trump and his merry band of freebooters accomplished nothing else, they enraged the sleeping masses to the point that they were ready to throw caution to the winds and take matters into their own hands. Go ahead, just try putting that genie back into the bottle, especially when he starts granting wishes.
* Saturday Bonus Chuckle *
While Trump is in France for the 100th anniversary Armistice Day celebration, he has a packed schedule. He will be visiting the Notre Dame cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, Rue Pigalle, the Arc deTriomphe, and the Louvre. His staff felt that he would be right at home surrounded by old Paris-sites.
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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.