This has always been a problem, but with the vast sums of money that it takes for a US politician to get elected, large industry groups end up supporting both sides and play the ends against the middle. When you tack on the monied lobbyist influence and reasonable, even handed legislation does not stand a chance. The end result is we are closer to oligarchy in this country approaching the days of the Robber Barons, which Teddy Roosevelt adamantly fought. Roosevelt was against corporate funding whatsoever, but now with recent court decisions, companies are given freedoms to control elections and elected officials.
If you look at the largest and most influential industry in America, the fossil fuel industry, it is easy to see why we still debate over man’s influence over climate change and that fracking should be viewed as perfectly safe because the pretty and earnest spokeswoman tells it is so on the excellently crafted commercial. I have said this before, but they are not my words – the fossil fuel industry pretty much owns the Republican Party in the United States. Oh, I am sure we could argue degrees of influence, but there should be little debate that the fossil fuel industry can get the attention of the GOP.
The sad part of the equation is they also fund Democrats, as well. While they would prefer the Republicans to win, because of the canned legislation ready to be enacted for their betterment through organizations like ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, if the Democrats win, they have that base covered. Coupling that with a heavy lobbying effort and these legislators don’t stand a chance. While the President has espoused moving the ball forward on addressing climate change and has done some good things, we have been fracking like there is no tomorrow, which is an intended pun.
In fact, with Republicans in Congress bashing the EPA efforts, someone high up in the Administration has on more than one occasion asked the EPA to cool their jets. This is one reason EPA Director Lisa Jackson resigned in December 2012 shortly after a report on fracking water poisoning in Pennsylvania was released that was watered down in the headlines. Since no one reads anything any more, people went with the headlines which were less forthcoming about the problematic results. I guess she was hoping someone would have her back in this hard fight. I am likely over-simplifying the reasons, but she was a frustrated camper when she left.
I could have easily picked on another industry group, such as the NRA. There is a reason that goes beyond Republican obstinance that works against getting some legitimate and wanted legislation done. But, the key takeaway is funders can play both ends against the middle in a fight no one knows is going on outside of government halls. In the case of the fossil fuel industry with connections and money, they are a formidable power to reckon with. So, this more than anything is why the EPA is a target. They stand in the way of the industry making decisions where the environmental impact is not highlighted as much as it needs to be. Other environmental groups have had to become more active to lend their voice to the understaffed and under supported EPA. If you hear “we should do away with the EPA” at a cocktail party, you should ask the person, “do you really mean that?”
So, the heavy lifting is going to fall on us citizens. We have to be better informed. We have to ask more questions about why people are advocating something that does not feel right. We cannot rely on party politics to dictate what we do. We need to get our information from reputable and multiple sources. There are too many so-called news sources and pundits that are giving out misinformation and disinformation, or at best spin-doctored news. If you are watching a news source that mentions Benghazi more than half a dozen times, you are not watching a reputable news source.
Let’s keep these folks honest. We have our work cut out for us.
Also, please check out my friend Hugh Curtler’s post on “Corporate Persons” from this morning. http://hughcurtler.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/corporate-persons/