Corporate Money and Influence Undermines Our Democracy

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsSenator Kirsten Gellibrand (NY) responds to the question: why hasn’t there been any meaningful reform on gun violence in Congress: “First, I just want to say that my heart is broken. I mean, this is unfathomable how many deaths we’ve had to see over and over and over again. And Congress has done nothing. The silence is literally deafening. And they don’t get anything done because the NRA has a chokehold on Congress. The NRA is concerned only with gun sales. It is literally all about money. It is all about greed. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. And we’ve seen death after death after death, and it has to stop… [The NRA] has so much power that nothing was done after Aurora. Nothing was done after Sandy Hook. Nothing was done after Charleston. Nothing was done after Las Vegas. And nothing was done now [Parkland school shooting]… that is the power. It’s the power of money. It’s the power of communications. It’s the fear they instill in members [of Congress] — and it’s wrong. It’s morally wrong. I think it is a [Republican and Democrat] problem and I can tell you what the solution is. The solution is they need to listen to these kids. They’re starting a movement and taking this into their own hands and [speaking] truth to power. Because for me, when nine years ago I sat down with a mom and a dad, who just lost their teenage daughter to a stray bullet, and I met with her classmates — the anger and fear and resentment in their community because Congress does nothing, made me want to change. And so the solution to this problem is listening to those kids, and hearing their pain, their frustration, and anger and doing something about it… I came from a hunting family, but I can tell you the minute you meet a mom or dad who’s lost their child [to gun violence], you know… I recently met a mom who lost her four-year-old son on a park bench in Brooklyn. That’s in our neighborhood, that’s our community, right there. So we need to do somethng about it and I think this whole conversation has a chance of changing because of these kids. You know, people like Emma Gonzalez telling her story, speaking so forcefully, it could change… and to shame any member of Congress that takes money from the NRA and calling them out and holding them accountable. [When asked, nothing happens in Washington; is Washington owned by the corporations?]. Well, yeah, I believe that first of all, we have dark money in politics. We have unlimited corporate spending with no accountability, no transparency, so we have to get money out of politics. I’ve just banned corporate PAC checks, actually, because I think it is really important that [we lead by example]. I believe that other Congressmen have already joined [the bandwagon]… Cory Booker did right away, and other people are doing it… several of my colleagues. And the reason I think we have to lead by example on this is because we have start taking the money out of politics because it undermines our democracy. Money is not free speech. I do not believe that the Supreme Court saying that money is speech and corporations have the same free speech right as Americans. That is not true, it is false. We need publicly funded elections. You need to get the soft corruption out. You need to get the hard corruption out. And you need to take away the voice and the outside influence that corporations have over members of Congress — and the NRA is one of the worst offenders.” [emphasis added]

Excerpt from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert broadcast on Feb 20, 2018

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