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Will They Get What They’re Paying For?

Loeb Campaign Flier 1As campaigns and volunteers hone their final electoral messages, the best flier I’ve seen asks a simple question—“Will They Get What They’re Paying For?” Created by the Washington State Labor Council, and proudly bearing their name, not that of some shadowy front group, it portrays a check from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Republican Washington State Senate candidate Dino Rossi. Notes in the memo field remind us of Rossi’s positions: Lower minimum wage, repeal Wall Street reform, offshore U.S. jobs. Below the check is a field of corporate logos: BP, Fox, JPMorganChase, Walmart, AIG, Philip Morris, Citigroup, Pfizer, McDonalds, Comcast, AT&T and more. The relatively conventional back contrasts Rossi and Senator Patty Murray on key economic issues, stating “Dino Rossi works for them. Senator Patty Murray works for us.”

Those angry at endless compromises may dispute whether Democrats have gone to the mat enough for ordinary citizens. But they must be measured against candidates who will delightedly play the role of wholly owned subsidiaries of the most rapacious corporations in America, and groups like the Chamber that give them political cover. There’s no comparison between most on the Democratic ticket (excepting a handful of corporate-backed obstructionists, such as Blanche Lincoln) and their hard-right Republican opponents. So the flier’s question is key: Who’s paying the campaign bills? What will they expect in return? Whose interest will the candidates serve once elected?

I’ve seen no other piece that sums up the election issues as powerfully, and would love to see organizations and candidates adapt its template for their own outreach. The creator, WSLC staffer David Groves, is delighted for people or organizations to do this—no permission needed. In the wake of Citizens United, with corporations pumping in unprecedented levels of dollars through shadowy front groups—like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (a completely separate organization from your local Main Street Chambers, despite trading on their credibility), Karl Rove’s Americans for Prosperity, and the Koch Brothers’ American Crossroads—we need to make their spending the salient issue in every message we put forth. This issue encompasses all others. As I’ve written earlier, nothing gets as strong a response when I’ve canvassed as directly challenging this hostile takeover of our democracy. And no other approach creates as great a chance that all the anonymous attack ads will backfire. Adapting the message of this flier would be a powerful start.

Loeb Campaign Flier 2 

Paul Rogat LoebPaul Loeb is the author of the wholly updated new edition of Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times (St Martin’s Press, April 2010), and The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, which the History Channel and the American Book Association named the #3 political book of 2004. See www.paulloeb.org. 

Paul Loeb is a guest blogger at utne.com. The views expressed by this guest blogger belong to him and do not necessarily reflect the mission or editorial voice of utne.com or the Utne Reader. 

gary ashcraft
10/28/2010 8:16:15 PM

The day I see a party or polititian who is prepared to live by the same laws they pass for the rest of us, willing to partake of the same health care they mandate for the rest of us, prepared to have the same retirement program and income they legislate for the rest of us, participate in the same social security system, contribute to a 401K like the rest of us, take the same pay raises that lock step with with Social Security (we don't get nothing neither do they). I see no one on either side of the isle prepared to live like the America they claim to represent. Till that happens I say throw the bums out every two years till they get the message.


gary ashcraft
10/28/2010 7:38:42 PM

What keeps me ceaselessly amazed is the inability of anyone who claims to have a pulse on America to grasp what is really happening. This is not Democrat vs Republican, Conservative vs Liberal, this is a class warfare struggle. Not your Red baiting Commie Pinko name calling of 50-60 years ago but a struggle that hails back to the Populist movement of a century ago. We once again have a wealthy Oligarchy who will use all tools at their disposal to further enrich themselves (the wealthiest 1% of America got 7% richer this last year). Two years ago we threw out the Republicans because they had a chance and blew it. Now the Democrats have had a turn at bat and have also struck out. We'll kick them to the curb just as readily as we did the Republicans and in two years do it all over again till someone inside the beltway gets the message. We have a government that has grown fat, lazy, and lethargic. Full of indolent self serving sycophants that will dance to the tune of anyone willing to help pick up the tab for the ride to personal and thier parties power over the other party with no thought to anything more visionary than the next election. I had a prof in college who used to say "Institution can only be changed by Revolutions who in time become Institutions that must be overthrown by Revolutions that will in turn become new Institutions that will only yeild to yet another Revolution, Ad Infinitum.