TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Citizens + United = Oxymoron

When the U.S. Supreme Court, on a 5-4 decision, ruled to basically eliminate caps on political spending through its decision on Citizens United — We the People lost.

My comments apply to our political system and what has been happening in recent years, regardless of your political persuasion.

Money has come to dominate our elections. Here are just a few examples of candidates who’ve bought political power, with the unplanned help of the electorate.

  • The newly elected governor of the state of North Dakota is a self-made millionaire. With absolutely no political experience (“experience” being the key word), he made promises to get rid of the good old boys club and bring change. So far, his idea of change is to retain most, if not all, of the outgoing administration’s picks. Apparently, he thinks keeping the same people equals change.

The sad fact is that many, including me, bought into that BS. And the result was to leave Wayne Stenehjem, the current attorney general and former candidate for governor, on the losing side of the contest.

Stenehjem is one of the most honest, caring and capable politicians ever to hold public office in North Dakota. The GOP deserted him. The loss is to the people of the state.

Wayne is a political expert. Burgum has no experience, but worse his failure to promote the agenda he ran on and his support of his mentor Trump show the error of our ways.

  • The president-elect purchased his way into office over many qualified Republican opponents. He can claim he “has a great program” now because he has changed his promises so often that he can truly claim that every possible position on an issue is one he has espoused.

It’s the first time we have ever had a president-elect who openly admires Vladimir Putin of Russia and everything he stands for … a president-elect who maintains that he himself is his own best source of information … says he knows more than our military generals and denigrates our intelligence agencies — all of them … all this without attending the intelligence briefings.

Yes, some people may say he was a better candidate than Hillary Clinton. But those same people know there were many, many Republican candidates more qualified than Trump. And yet they opted for the most dangerous man ever to be elected to the most powerful office in the world.

Having lost the general election by nearly 3 million votes, what is Trump’s first tweet of the New Year? “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”

In my world, those who do not support me are “opponents.” In Trump’s world, they are “enemies.” That’s just scary. The president of the United States is supposed to represent ALL the American people, not just his supporters.

From one standpoint, the 2016 election seems like “Citizens United” in reverse. Clinton had the cash and lost. But that’s not the issue here. Instead, it’s what the Republicans could have done for this country.

  • Anyone remember Marsy’s Law? It was the bad initiated measure proposed by a California millionaire, who bought and paid for his very own amendment to the North Dakota Constitution. So many millions were injected into the campaign to purchase advertising, and thus media exposure, that the fact that most of the state’s judges, defense attorneys, prosecuting attorneys and victim advocates opposed it was lost on the public.

It was unfortunate that Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney and Burleigh County Sheriff Pat Heinert were so prominently featured in ads supporting the amendment. They should have known better. Since they didn’t, perhaps you should call them and ask why. Don’t call the measure’s opponents; it’s too late for that.

Once again, money talked … very loudly. Now the criminal justice system is left to figure out how to deal with this change in our constitution.

Because this is the United States of America, we will survive a President Trump, a Gov. Burgum and Marsy’s Law. With good advice, common sense and open minds, our rookie leaders can — and must — learn on the job. They might represent us well, and, after all, that is what everyone wants, regardless of political beliefs.

Burgum has disclosed his financial records. Trump has not. The president-elect promised on many occasions that he would eventually release his tax returns. He has not done so. The president-elect also says he will divest himself of his assets to avoid the appearance of impropriety. He has not done so.

State government will keep Gov. Burgum honest. The jury is out on whether Congress will do the same for the president-elect.

I’m hopeful that the Democrats in the U.S. Senate do not follow the cowardly and destructive path set by Sen. Mitch McConnell. Supreme Court candidates and vacancies in the federal system should be acted upon quickly and given up or down votes. The court system has been suffering under the do-nothing GOP-controlled Senate; the Democratic minority should not follow suit.

We elect senators and representatives who do not put in a full week’s work and set records for time off. Here in the local environment, workers or employees who did that would be fired. Yet in our federal system, those who have been elected are rewarded. This does not make sense to me. It never will.

So, enough with this week’s thoughts. To all my friends who care: This has been a great year for me. Now I’m off to make my second million dollars — I gave up trying to make the first a good long time ago. Amen.

Leave a Reply