COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 8, 2016 — “Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets made ready to blow them” (Revelation 8:6); “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people” (Joel, 2:15-16); “Every one who then hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock … And every man who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand” (Matthew 7: 24,26)
There are many ways to view Election Year 2016. Some liken it to a train wreck. For some it is revelatory. Believers see it as divine intervention and search for signs that lead them back to their Bible. They note that Trump is short for trumpet. And that Sanders reminds them of Matthew’s admonitions about the folly of building one’s house on shifting sands.
Consider that both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are playing central roles in this election year, oddly linked not by party affiliation, but by a breaking apart of the Old Order. Both are, in their own ways, playing roles in that disintegration. Both, by their candidacies and eschewing of the gray men in suits, are performing the exact same service for America: confirming the hypocrisies and corruption in our political system, left and right.
And both, providentially, look to the people first, take their support and sustenance from addressing what the people want. Each has rejected the suits on Wall Street and Washington, preferring to take their cues instead from an electorate that’s starved for the truth.
Truth in electioneering begins with money. Campaign finance has long been an issue for Republicans and Democrats. They watch each other’s sources of income like hawks. They appeal to Congress and even the Supreme Court in their attempts to rein in the other side. Yet for all their protestations of campaign virtue, both sides continue to raise near criminal amounts of campaign cash each year.
Campaign finance reform was an effort to change the role of money in politics, primarily political campaigns. Although attempts to regulate campaign finance by legislation date back to 1867, the modern era of campaign finance reform begins with passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971, requiring candidates to disclose sources of campaign contributions and campaign expenditures.
Later amendments transformed FECA from top to bottom. Limits were placed on contributions by individuals and a Federal Election Commission was created to be an independent enforcement agency. There were broad new disclosure requirements, and dollar amounts candidates could spend on their campaigns were limited. The influence of wealthy individuals also was addressed by limiting individual donations to $1,000 and donations by political action committees (PACS) to $5,000.
Provisions limiting expenditures were struck down as unconstitutional in a 1976 Supreme Court decision. In 2002, the McCain-Feingold Act prohibited unregulated contributions—”soft money”—to national political parties and limited the use of corporate and union money to fund ads discussing political issues.
The legal wrangling continues and promises to continue to the end of time.
Outside the fracas and challenging the establishment are Ben Carson, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. None has gone to Wall Street to beg for money. These men, wildly different in their policies, beliefs and backgrounds, share a near historical faith in the American people. They have rejected the suits and their compadres, the major banks and corporations.
Trump has raised a total of $36.6 million in his largely self-funded campaign. Twenty-one percent of his campaign donations are under $200; only $11.8 million comes from PACs. Sanders, painfully poorer than the billionaire, has raised $139.8 million, 66 percent from donations of $200 or less. None of his funds are from Super PACs. Ninety-nine percent of the total raised by Carson’s campaign—$63 million—came from individual contributions.
The suits’ candidate, Hillary Clinton, by contrast has raised $222.4 million, $62.5 million from Super PACs.
By leaving the big money on the table, the peoples’ candidates have turned their backs on the suits, rejecting the club’s by-laws and mores. They threaten the very existence of the suits, exposing the cracks in the well-oiled machine that’s operated with impunity for so many years.
Wall Street and its money are being left to the side. Careers, trust funds, off-shore accounts and the veneer of respectability afforded by power are in jeopardy. This election threatens the establishment worse than any other.
Election year 2016 has demonstrated that policies have little to do with the ultimate horse race. It really is about the Establishment and their access to power, their prestige, and their myth of respectability.
The establishment understands that they would carry no weight with a President Carson, President Trump or President Sanders. Independent of Wall Street’s campaign cash, none of these men would be indebted to them. They’d be working for the people, the forgotten electorate who would have placed their trust in a straight-shooter rather than a safe, establishment candidate.
They’d be free to turn the ship of state around; free to build our house on rock, not sand by getting the national debt under control; free to sound the trumpets about outside dangers to us. In other words, free to limit threats from entering our house and free to beat down threats on distant shores so they will leave Europe and us alone and safe once again.
“Money doesn’t talk. It screams.”
As Trump sounds his trumpet warning us of dangers ahead; as Sanders leads his followers away from the sins of corporate cash; as Carson quotes the Bible and then, surprise of all surprises, honors its precepts, the people are deciding to take a chance on freedom.
Or we can continue in the bondage that is Big Money. We can listen to the trumpets, or turn our backs on the warnings.
The American people have already spoken in primary after primary. They have recognized the inherent honesty of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. The peoples’ instincts are sound. Listen to them. Respect their choice. As we choose which candidate to dump this election season, let us consider also the delicious prospect of dumping the men in gray suits, too.