Similar to other presidents, the Obama White House -- shortly after its first-term started -- installed a revolving door for special, moneyed friends. Contracts, ambassadorships and other goodies were some of the rewards.
As noted it’s not uncommon to give such access, but Obama did promise, or at least make a good faith effort, to change Washington’s culture. He hasn't. He's only added to it.
Organizing for Action enhances Washington’s seedy environment, no matter how noble its goals or mission. The president has converted his campaign apparatus and donor base of affluent Americans into what potentially may be the best financed lobbying group in Washington and perhaps the nation. It’s being defended as a policy initiative, not political operation.
Many, especially those with a liberal or progressive mindset, may cheer the group, but it comes with a distasteful elitism. The causes it may further in the name of social justice or those it is intended to help, especially middle class and working poor Americans will never be given access to power or even be directly heard.
There’s a kind of noblesse oblige emerging, antithetical to the principles of Thomas Paine’s republic. Don’t expect those most impacted by the committee to have much say, if any, in its agenda or implementation. If you have enormous sums of money, you have a place at the table and with it a side entrance to the Oval Office. The little people should be grateful and cheer from the sidelines.
Washington of course is fueled by money and the agendas of special interests, whether oil companies wanting tax credits or doctors seeking more research grants. Independent of re-enforcing the cycle of money and access, the president continues to break a major promise to address the corrupting influence of money in campaigns and public discourse.
In his zealousness to leave a legacy, the president has become part of the problem he promised to fix. It doesn’t matter the purpose or source of the money. It buys message. People don’t donate large sums out of pure largesse and expect nothing in return. Money plays no favorites when it corrupts parties, political philosophies, or individuals on the giving or receiving end.
In addition, money twists, manipulates, and drowns out a better, or at the very least reasonable alternative to a proposal that will never be heard. Whether the ideas are liberal, moderate or conservative the amount of money, lack of transparency and limited regulatory oversight of someone buying messages undermines the integrity of the democratic process and the values of Paine’s republic.
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Paul Jesep is author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis: Learn to Live and Work Ethically”; “Credit Card Usury and the Christian Failure to Stop It”; and “Crucifying Jesus and Secularizing America – the Republic of Faith without Wisdom