Money and Special Interests in US Midterm Elections
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Money and Special Interests in US Midterm Elections


Even CNN and Voice of America (VOA) are joining up to stress the importance of the US midterm elections, describing how, beyond the balance of power in Congress, their impact will be felt at every level of government for at least the next decade. 

On November 6, voters will decide who controls the House and Senate and takes 36 governorships.

Not only will the results be determined by the usual political winds but the response to Trump’s policies, and whether he should have the political support in Congress to implement his polices. By some accounts, whether he will be impeached or not will also come into the equation.

It is not a matter of what the media tells you, but how Americans in key states react to what they are being exposed to each day on their boob tubes. The winners to seal the fate of Trump’s presidency and US policy for the foreseeable future.

But elections are more determined by money these days, even in such remote places as West Virginia. These elections have many in high places, especially in the Deep State, shaking in their boots.

Many are looking at these biennial elections with a sense of glee, hoping they will be a chance to change the political landscape in the age of Trump and the new political realities he has introduced. 

But many stakeholders many sooner or later realize just how naïve they are. Voters cannot make a change at the ballot box, or shift the balance of power in Washington and the rest of the country.

Money decides elections, NOT informed individuals who cast their vote based on who is the best candidate for the job and the nation as whole. It does not have to be like this, and voters really can make a difference, and once did.

But nowadays elections are bought and sold by special interests.  I recently read Ron Anderson’s article in the Moorefield Examiner, “Out of State Money and Buying Elections”, with great interest after returning to Hardy Country, WV, the rural farming community where I grew up and spent my most formative years, after 20 years outside the US.

Few things have changed here, other than there being a new road that lets people work in other states with greater ease. The above-linked Anderson article details much of what is wrong with the American political system, especially a region of the country where vote buying, and election fraud, are rife.

Just how much it costs to get elected to public office in the United States does not end with the influence on the actual ballot but what is the payback for those who financially backed a given candidate to get into office. 

This is a topic more Americans should be aware of, as they are not in control of their own political destinies.  Anyone who thinks elections in the US can’t be bought needs to take a closer look at campaign contributions and expenditures in the most recent West Virginia Senate primary elections. If they weren’t bought, it was not for a lack trying.

Independent expenditures made mostly by so-called “Super PACs” (political action committees), totaled over $9.2 million, almost all of it out-of-state money, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). This amount far exceeded the money spent by all the candidates and their campaigns on their elections, which totaled $7,802,745, according to the latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) records.

What these numbers tell us is that out-of-state independent expenditures—money not controlled by the candidates or their campaigns– totaled about $1.4 million dollars more than all the money spent by the candidates’ own campaigns, and the citizens of West Virginia who contributed to them.

Simply put, this means that last May´s primary election “was not about who West Virginians wanted,” as Dr. Robert Rupp, Professor of History and Political Science at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buchanan, explains. “It’s about who the political parties and the special interests and lobbyists (from outside the state) want.

This has been the case since the American Civil War, when the Western region of Virginia was artificially split-off from the rest of Virginia to be on the side of the Union, and the vote for secession was rigged, with Federal troops stationed at the polling stations to make sure citizens voted the right way. It continued with coal mine ownership, and the mineral and oil wealth of the state being siphoned off by outsiders in the last century.

“What we have here — and West Virginia in 2018 is an extreme example of what’s happening across the nation—are elections being hijacked by outside interests willing to spend extraordinary amounts of money.”

The lineup of contributors to the PACs includes some of the big names like Koch Industries, etc. It is becoming ever clearer that the powers that be are placing "big bets" on the idea that “So goes WV politically so goes the country”

Let us not forget that it was WV voters who turned for tide for John F. Kennedy to be elected as the youngest president ever, in one of the tightest presidential election races, which he won by less than one percent in the popular vote.

"I would not be where I now am, I would not have some of the responsibilities which I now bear, if it had not been for the people of West Virginia." President John F. Kennedy, June 20, 1963 

It was the voters of West Virginia who handed him the stunning victory he credited with securing the Democratic nomination for President. Sweeping a state in which Catholics comprised barely 5 percent of the population, Senator Kennedy proved that a Catholic candidate could win votes.

Even leaving aside allegations of foreign meddling in elections, purging of voter registration lists, electronic ballots and various other forms of voter suppression, everything boils down to who is willing to pay the most for politicians.

There are so many levels of corruption and special interests, lobbyists who basically tell the politicians what to do. They even write the legislation that has been bought and paid for by special interests.

As we count down to the US midterm elections pundits should keep in mind that it is not the “high and mighty” who should be the game changers but the rank of file voters in places like WV. They can be once again, [game changers] but only if they have not been sold-down-the-river or brainwashed by their own political elites, media and special interests.

Author: Jeffrey Silverman