From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject Krysten Sinema: The Epitome of Political Corruption
Date October 14, 2021 3:20 AM
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[ Shortly after her close election, Sinema quickly joined other
Democrats who’d followed the Citizens United path to the flashing
neon lights of big money.] [[link removed]]

[[link removed]]


Thom Hartmann
October 13, 2021
Economy for All [[link removed]]

[[link removed]]
[[link removed]]
* [[link removed]]

_ Shortly after her close election, Sinema quickly joined other
Democrats who’d followed the Citizens United path to the flashing
neon lights of big money. _



When Bobby Kennedy went after organized crime
[[link removed]] in
the early 1960s, one of the things he learned was that the Mafia had
a series of rituals [[link removed]] new
members went through to declare their loyalty and promise they’d
never turn away from their new benefactors.  Once in, they’d be
showered with money and protection, _but they __could never leave
and even faced _
[[link removed]]_serious
problems if they betrayed the syndicate_. 

Which brings us to the story of Kyrsten Sinema.

For a  republican democracy to actually work, average citizens with a
passion for making their country better must be able to run for public
office without needing wealthy or powerful patrons; this is a concept
that dates back to Aristotle’s rants 
[[link removed]]on the
topic. And Sinema was, in the beginning, just that sort of person. But
I’m getting ahead of myself…

After the Nixon and Agnew bribery scandals were fully revealed with a
series of congressional investigations leading to Nixon’s
resignation in 1974, Congress passed and President Jerry Ford signed
into law a series of “good government” laws that provided for
public funding of elections and strictly limited the role of big money
in campaigns.

Just like the 1/6 attack on the Capitol produced a “select”
committee to investigate the anti-democracy crimes of Donald Trump and
his cronies, Congress authorized the _Select Committee on
Presidential Campaign Activities_
[[link removed]]_ _to
look into Nixon’s abuses and make recommendations.

The committee’s 100-page report documented how Nixon had taken
bribes (most notably $400,000 from ITT to squash an antitrust
lawsuit); used “dark” money from wealthy friends and corporations
to set up astroturf “citizens committees” (an early version of the
Tea Party) to make it appear he had widespread support among the
American public; and used off-the-books money to both support loyal
Republican politicians whose help he needed as well as to pay for his
“opposition research” surveillance which included the Watergate
break-in of the DNC’s headquarters.

In response to the report, Congress passed an exhaustive set of new
laws and regulations, most significantly creating from scratch the
Federal Elections Commission
[[link removed]] (FEC), outlawing
secret donations to politicians while providing for public funding of
federal elections to diminish the power of big money.  (Jimmy Carter
was the only presidential candidate to win using such public funding
[[link removed]].)

Over the years since, conservatives on the Supreme Court have
repeatedly gutted provisions of the 1974 amendments to the _Federal
Election Campaign Act_ (FECA), most famously in 2010 with their
notorious _Citizens United_ decision. 

With that stroke, over the loud objections of the four “liberals”
on the Court, corporations were absolutely deemed as “persons”
with full constitutional rights, and billionaires or corporations
pouring massive amounts of money into campaign coffers was changed
from “bribery and political corruption” to an exercise of the
constitutionally-protected “right of free speech.”

Into this milieu stepped Kyrsten Sinema, running from a seat in the
Arizona Senate for the US House of Representatives in 2012 as an
“out” bisexual and political progressive.  The campaign quickly
turned ugly.

Following the _Citizens United_ script, the Republican she
confronted in that race (Vernon Parker) used corporate and billionaire
money to carpet-bomb their district airwaves with ads calling her “a
radical left-wing activist promoting hatred toward our country, our
allies, and our families” and warning people that she “engaged in
pagan rituals.”  

Vernon Parker: Meet Kyrsten Sinema Web Ad

The district was heavily Democratic (Obama handily won it that year)
but the race was close enough that it took six full days for the AP to
call it for Sinema.  And that, apparently, was when she decided that
if you can only barely beat them, you’d damn well better join them.

Sinema quickly joined other Democrats who’d followed the _Citizens
United_ path to the flashing neon lights of big money, joining the
so-called “Problem Solvers
[[link removed]]”
caucus that owes its existence in part to the Wall Street-funded
front group
[[link removed]] “No

Quietly and without fanfare, she began voting with Republicans and the
corporate- and billionaire-owned Democrats, supporting efforts
to deregulate big banks, “reform” Social Security and Medicare,
and make it harder to for government to protect regular investors
[[link removed]] or
even buyers of used cars
[[link removed]] from
being ripped off.

She voted with the Chamber 77 percent of the time
[[link removed]] in her first
term; in return, political networks run by rightwing billionaires and
the US Chamber of Commerce showered her with support.  In her first
re-election race, in 2014, she was one of only five democrats
[[link removed]] endorsed
by the notoriously rightwing Chamber.

She’d proved herself as a “made woman,” just like the old
mafiosi documented by RFK in the 1960s, willing to do whatever it
takes, compromise whatever principles she espoused, to get into and
stay in the good graces of the large and well-funded rightwing
syndicates unleashed by Citizens United.  

So it should surprise precisely nobody that Sinema is parroting the
Chamber’s and the billionaire network’s line that President Joe
Biden’s _Build Back Better_ plan is too generous in helping and
protecting average Americans and too punitive in taxing the morbidly
rich. After all, once you’re in, you leave at your own considerable
peril, even when 70 percent of your state’s voters want the bill to
[[link removed]]. 

And this is a genuine crisis for America because if President Biden is
frustrated in his attempt to pass his _Build Back
Better_ legislation (that is overwhelmingly supported by Americans
across the political spectrum) — all because business groups, giant
corporations and rightwing billionaires are asserting ownership over
their two “made” senators — there’s a very good chance that
today’s cynicism and political violence is just a preview of the
rest of the decade.

But this isn’t as much a story about Sinema as it is about today’s
larger political dysfunction for which she’s become, along with Joe
Manchin, a poster child. 

Increasingly, because of the Supreme Court’s betrayal of American
values [[link removed]], it’s become impossible for people
like the younger Sinema to rise from social worker to the United
States Senate without big money behind them. Our media is absolutely
unwilling to call this what even Andrew Jackson
[[link removed]] would
have labeled it: _political corruption_. But that’s what it is and
it’s eating away at our republic like a metastasized cancer.

A guest on Brian Stelter’s CNN program
[[link removed]] yesterday
pointed out that there are today more autocracies in the world than
democracies and, generally, democracies are on the decline.  This
corruption of everyday politics by the rich and powerful is how
democracies begin the shift to autocracy or oligarchy, as I document
in gruesome detail in _The Hidden History of American Oligarchy:
Reclaiming Our Democracy from the Ruling Class_
[[link removed]].

While the naked corruption of Sinema and Joe Manchin is a source of
outrage for Democrats across America, what’s far more important is
that it reveals how deep the rot of money in American politics has
gone, thanks entirely to a corrupted Supreme Court
[[link removed]].

In Justice Stevens’ dissent in _Citizens United_
[[link removed]], he pointed
out that corporations in their modern form didn’t even exist when
the Constitution was written in 1787 and got its first ten amendments
in 1791, including the First which protects free speech.

“All general business corporation statues appear to date from well
after 1800,” Stevens pointed out to his conservative colleagues on
the Court. “The Framers thus took it as a given that corporations
could be comprehensively regulated in the service of the public
welfare. Unlike our colleagues, they had little trouble distinguishing
corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the
right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of
individual Americans they had in mind.

“The fact that corporations are different from human beings might
seem to need no elaboration, except that the majority opinion almost
completely elides it…. Unlike natural persons, corporations have
‘limited liability’ for their owners and managers, ‘perpetual
life,’ separation of ownership and control, ‘and favorable
treatment of the accumulation of assets….’ Unlike voters in U.S.
elections, corporations may be foreign controlled.”

Noting that corporations “inescapably structure the life of every
citizen,” Stevens continued: “It might be added that corporations
have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires.
Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human
beings, to be sure, and their ‘personhood’ often serves as a
useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of ‘We the
People’ by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.”

Even worse than the short-term effect of a corporation’s dominating
an election or a ballot initiative, Stevens said (as if he had a time
machine to look at us now), was the fact that corporations corrupting
politics would, inevitably, cause average working Americans — the 95
percent who make less than $100,000 a year — to conclude that their
“democracy” is now rigged.

The result, Stevens wrote, is that average people would simply stop
participating in politics, stop being informed about politics, and
stop voting…or become angry and cynical. Our democracy, he
suggested, would be immeasurably damaged and ultimately vulnerable to
corporate-supported demagogues and oligarchs. Our constitutional
republic, if _Citizens United_ stands, could wither and could die.

“In addition to this immediate drowning out of noncorporate
voices,” Stevens wrote in 2010, “there may be deleterious effects
that follow soon thereafter. Corporate ‘domination’ of
electioneering can generate the impression that corporations dominate
our democracy.

“When citizens turn on their televisions and radios before an
election and hear only corporate electioneering, they may lose faith
in their capacity, as citizens, to influence public policy. A
Government captured by corporate interests, they may come to believe,
will be neither responsive to their needs nor willing to give their
views a fair hearing.

“The predictable result is cynicism and disenchantment: an increased
perception that large spenders ‘call the tune’ and a reduced
‘willingness of voters to take part in democratic governance.’ To
the extent that corporations are allowed to exert undue influence in
electoral races, the speech of the eventual winners of those races may
also be chilled.” _(Emphasis mine)_

As if he were looking at Kyrsten Sinema facing a tough choice about
her own political survival leading up to the 2014 election, Stevens

“Politicians who fear that a certain corporation can make or break
their reelection chances may be cowed into silence about that

And, again looking into his time machine to today, the now-deceased
Stevens pointed to the frustration of average Americans with Kyrsten
Sinema and Joe Manchin.

“On a variety of levels, unregulated corporate electioneering might
diminish the ability of citizens to ‘hold officials accountable to
the people,’ and disserve the goal of a public debate that is
‘uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.’”

Stevens and his fellow “liberals” on the Court were both prescient
and right. 

They warned in their dissent that foreign money would corrupt our
elections and we saw that in a big way in 2016.  There’s apparently
no way of knowing how much of today’s political turmoil — from
school board to election commission to hospital and airplane violence
— is being orchestrated and amplified by foreign players on social
media masquerading as Americans to weaken our country.

They warned that because of the Citizens United decision Americans
would become cynical and reactionary; that’s happening today. 
Armed militias are in our streets, people are regularly assaulted for
their perceived politics, and rightwing media demagogues make millions
(literally) promoting hate and fear.

And, they warned, it could doom our republic, something that’s now
within our sight. 

_This article was produced by __Economy for All_
[[link removed]]_, a project
of the Independent Media Institute._

_THOM HARTMANN is a talk-show host
[[link removed]] and author of more than 25 books in
print [[link removed]]. He is a
writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute
[[link removed]]._

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