Much of the nation watched last night with breath held, waiting to see the recall results in Wisconsin. In the end, two WI Senate Republicans were replaced with Democrats, falling short of the three needed to take control of the Senate.
While this wasn’t the outcome many hoped for, it was still a bit of a victory. No longer are politics played on an even field, and the situation in Wisconsin makes this clearer than any other state. But despite the slanted scale, working people in Wisconsin were still able to change two seats out of six. It is movement in the right direction.
What I mean about there no longer being an even playing field in politics is the vast amount of control and power money now has in our democratic system. While Scott Walker has pushed so extremely to rob working people of their basic rights and protections, he’s been cushioned in support of endlessly flowing money backing his efforts.
Brave New Foundation’s work on Koch Brothers Exposed has told the story of the corrupting role of big money in politics. How the Koch brothers politically spend their money, in order to get policies that will support their bottom line of billions, is a story we will continue to tell. The Koch brothers are a key example of this phenomenon, but they are far from the only wealthy individuals to control the outcomes of our political system. The represent a disease that is much larger than them alone.
This isn’t a game played fair. While organizers go door to door to have conversations with voters, big money can pay for endless ads to run on TV.
While democracy has rules and has traditionally been a structure respected for its importance in our country, the Kochs treat our political system as a game to be won at all costs.
A perfect example of this? Here is a clip of Stephen Colbert telling of the Koch-funded American For Prosperity’s work in Wisconsin around this recent election.
The Kochs gave enough money for Americans For Prosperity to mail Democratic voters information about how they should send their ballots in — days after the election — and how, instead of sending them to the appropriate office, they should send them to a fake right-wing run PO Box. Those using their money to corrupt our political system have no shame at this point.
We need some series changes made in order to save our political system from the destruction it is headed for. A citizen’s ability to influence our democracy cannot continue to be defined primarily by the size of their net wealth. The only thing that can fix this is a structural policy change that redefine politics’ relationship to money.
As we as a country wrestle with the need for these major changes, the game will continue to be played on an unequal field. But one positive thing that Wisconsin has shown us is that those who try to buy our democracy for their own gain are no longer able to do it in complete secret. When characters such as the Koch brothers, and their ruthless efforts to take political power away from working people, are so commonplace that Colbert can run a whole segment mocking them, things are changing.
We at Brave New Foundation will continue to work to tell these stories. We will continue to expose the unjust role of money in politics, and how the Koch brothers are a key example of how democracy can be bought to benefit one’s bottom line. The more we know and understand these stories, the more we can fight back. It’s an unequal battleground in politics in our country right now. The outcome of Wisconsin should be read as a reminder of that. A reminder of the fight still left to had, but also of the willingness of working people to not give up this fight. No matter how many billionaires they are up against.