© Josh Sager – October 2014
During the South Carolina gubernatorial debate on 10/14/14, Governor Nicky Haley (R-SC) unintentionally gave the American people a view into the unconscious minds of the political class in the United States.
In a discussion over the Confederate flag, Democratic candidate Vincent Sheheen suggested that the flag be removed from public use (it still is flown on some public buildings in South Carolina, despite the fact that it represents the single largest treason and one of the worst moral failings in the history of our nation) and Governor Haley retorted with the following:
“What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state. I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag,”
Disregarding the offensive nature of Governor Haley’s support for Confederate iconography, she is making the point that business owners haven’t been scared out of the state because of its adoption of the Confederate flag. According to her view, thus lack of outrage by CEOs is a good reason to keep the flag flying (or, at least, a refutation of arguments for taking it down), regardless of the public outrage by many of her constituents.
While I have no reason to doubt her claim—she certainly talks to a lot of CEOs while begging for campaign funds and I have no doubt that they are willing to tolerate the Confederate flag if she continues giving them tax incentives—she is demonstrating her complete disregard for the preferences anybody who is not uber-wealthy and is accidentally illustrating the true priorities of the modern American politician.
The flood of money into our political system has warped the internalized decision-making process in our politicians. While once they prioritized the views of their constituents, they now completely disregard the opinions and preferences of the “little people” and focus purely on the preferences of their donor class. They simply don’t care what their constituents say, just as long as the donors are happy and they will be given enough money to run their future campaigns.
To most modern politicians, the need for money during elections has overshadowed all other considerations, and the people with the money have become the first-among-constituents. The natural extension of this shift is that the needs of the rich are looked after, while the needs of the people who don’t tend to donate to politicians are left to die.
In many cases, I don’t think that this decision is even conscious anymore, as the system is simply so corrupt that this is business as usual. In Haley’s case specifically, I think that she has completely internalized this prioritization, to the point where she doesn’t even realize that her constituents will find her honest response odious. After all, this was a remarkably stupid, off the cuff, comment that came from a point of honest reflex rather than deliberate argumentation.
While many would like to argue that this kind of internalized corruption is limited to one party or the other, the fact is that the effect of money is pervasive and has spread across all party and ideological lines. On the federal level, the Republicans are totally and absolutely corrupt—and often religious zealots or lunatics—while the Democrats are merely mostly corrupt. There are few honest politicians who will stand up to money, and even fewer who haven’t been captured by this corrupt way of thinking.
In order to fix this type of corruption, we must drain the money out of Washington by passing a constitutional amendment (see Wolf-PAC.com for more information on this) that undoes the damage from the Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC cases by forever separating money and speech. When money becomes irrelevant to political races, our politicians will begin to look after their constituents’ interests (regardless of whether those constituents are Mississippi conservatives or Massachusetts liberals) rather than the economic welfare of the moneyed donors.