Column: Pending bills point to influence of money in politics
Our late Monadnock region friend, national treasure, and world-renown icon, Doris Granny D Haddock, knew how to connect the dots. She clearly saw how every issue, addressed or ignored, relates to one other underlying factor — the influence of money. Money does speak. The more money used to support or disparage a position or a person, the greater the likelihood that citizens will be influenced in how they vote.
For instances, expanding gambling, privatizing schools and prisons, reducing regulations on medical devices and on food production, subsidizing fossil fuel industries, restricting voting rights, and the right to peacefully assemble, may seem unrelated but in fact they, and many others, are all influenced by how much money, particularly hidden money, affects how these issues will be handled — for the common good or for the money-privileged few.
Obviously, when a small handful of people with a great deal of money use that wealth to wield political power, we have neither a democracy nor a secure future. The Citizens United decision, making corporations people, blurs such money sources.
A thriving democracy is one of, by and for the people. Anything less is not democracy.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Democracy is dependent on citizens who are accurately informed and actively engaged. For far too long we have taken our liberties for granted, not even noticing, or only bemoaning when they are slowly eroded. As Granny D often said, “Democracy is not something we have. It’s something we do.” We don’t all need to walk across America to make a point as Granny D did; she assured us that each of us just taking a small step or two can help save democracy. It is never too late to pick up the phone or your feet to take those few small steps.
Right now in Concord, as in Washington, some are zealously trying to privatize prisons, expand gambling, approve projects that will quickly exhaust the very limited carbon based fuel supplies while irreparably damaging the planet itself and the vital resources upon which all life depends. The list goes on, each issue a dot on the map of human interaction, and each connected to the others by the common thread of money in politics.
Many critical bills are being discussed in committees in both the NH House and Senate, those that survive in committees are already moving to the full chambers and soon will be crossing-over to the other chamber.
Make your voices heard now and ask others to speak up as well. It is important to contact your legislators immediately to let them know your concerns. Ask them on what basis they have formed their decisions, what materials they used for their decisions. Tell them we need to know, and believe that they ought to know themselves, who has been funding certain positions and candidates.
Do not take democracy for granted.
Ruth Meyer was a co-founder of PACE: Promoting Active Civic Engagement, and remains one of its directors. The organization was incorporated in 2005 to work with Granny D on her causes. She is also on the board of directors for The Coalition for Open Democracy. She lives in Keene.