Why the House of Representatives Doesn’t Represent Americans…

tFrom Thom Hartmann

One of the really weird ironies of politics these days is the huge divergence between what the American people actually want and what the radical right-wingers in Washington actually do. You won’t hear this on Fox So-Called News, but right now the American people are as progressive as they ever have been.

Don’t believe me? Just check the polls.

The Progressive Change Institute recently asked likely 2016 voters about their views on a bunch of big issues, and it turns out that everyday Americans overwhelmingly support some of the most liberal policies around.

71 percent of all Americans support giving all students access to a debt-free college education.

70 percent support expanding Social Security.

71 percent a massive infrastructure spending program aimed at rebuilding out broken roads and bridges and putting people back to work.

59 percent support raising taxes on the wealthy so that millionaires pay the same amount in taxes as they did during the Reagan administration.

77 percent of Americans, support giving every American child free pre-K education.

And the list goes on.

58 percent of Americans support breaking up the big banks.

59 percent, meanwhile, support a basic guaranteed minimum income while a still higher percentage – 70 percent – support the creation of a “Green New Deal” that would see the government invest hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, support on Capitol Hill for the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ annual budget, which would put into place many of these very same liberal policies, is growing.

A full 40 percent of House Democrats supported the CPC budget in 2012, 43 percent supported it in 2013, 44 percent supported it in 2014, and more than half – 51.5 percent support it this year.

In other words, progressive values aren’t just popular with everyday Americans – they’re also popular, and increasingly more popular, with one of our two major parties, the Democratic one. But all this begs the question: If more than half of Congressional Democrats and way more than half of all Americans support doing things like expanding Social Security and making college free for all, why aren’t those policies becoming law?

Why, in our democracy, is the will of the people not being heard? The answer is both simple and tragic – we no longer actually live in a democracy.

We live in an oligarchy. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Long War against campaign finance law, the billionaires and economic royalists now have more control over our political system than they have in almost a century. This isn’t opinion; it’s objective and quantifiable fact.

A study released last year by political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, for example, found the following: A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favor) is adopted only about 18% of the time while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favor) is adopted about 45% of the time.

It really is all about money in politics. Since billionaires like Charles and David Koch can now pretty much buy their own politicians, along with billions in advertising and PR, it’s their views that get heard in Congress, and it’s their views that become law. And because real progressive policies so often cut into the power of the rich, they only very rarely become law in this Brave New World of ours.

America has and always will be a progressive nation, but if we don’t do something right now to reign in the corrupting influence of big money, it won’t matter whether 70 percent or 30 percent of Americans want to break up the big banks.

So go to MovetoAmend.org right now to get money out of politics once and for all.
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