Raising Awareness About The
Power Of
Your Vote

 

Among the reasons I decided to run for Florida Senate District 4 was to help voters understand how Florida government in recent decades became so out of balance and how it became such a servant of special interests.

 My worst fears about what this nation is becoming, as a consequence, is reflected in the poem "Pity The Nation." I recently came across it on a Facebook post by a woman who also is disturbed by the resulting erosion she sees to our Constitutional freedoms. Though written 11 years ago, the poem also struck a chord because it summarizes well the result of political complacency and ignorance which I see today.

 

I have to wonder if the author, who celebrated his 99th birthday in April, was aware, as few people are, of a well-funded network of organizations that for decades have worked seemingly concurrently to wrest control of government at all levels--and especially state legislatures. I was able to observe this network at work during my 8 years as a writer for the conservative Florida Times-Union editorial page.  Because of the paper's conservative leanings, it was something of a vortex through which this network's propaganda continuously flowed. I got to read reams of studies, opinion pieces, and polls designed to sway public opinion toward government policy that serves the best interests of powerful corporations.

 

Pity The Nation

By Lawrence Ferlinghetti

 

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
Whose sages are silenced
And whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
Except to praise conquerors
and acclaim the bully as hero
And aims to rule the world
By force and by torture
Pity the nation that knows
no other language but its own
And no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation oh pity the people
who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee.

 

 (read about the author here)

 

To understand how Florida and Florida politics was impacted by this network, read "Aaron Bean and the ALEC Money Machine", a piece I wrote for Folio Weekly in 2012.  I did not know at the time I wrote the article that the ALEC organization (American Legislative Exchange Council) was an outgrowth of recommendations made in 1971 to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by Lewis F. Powell Jr. a few months before he was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Richard Nixon.  Powell's opinions on the court are considered precursors to Citizens United that led to a later court decision for unrestricted amounts of corporate money to flow to candidates and political campaigns. Several recent books discuss the impact of what is referred to as the "Powell Memorandum," including the recent best-seller "Dark Money" by Jane Mayer of the New Yorker magazine. Bill Moyers, retired PBS commentator, posted an article about it on his website with excerpts from "Winner Take All Politics, How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class" another best seller.  

  ALEC member corporations finance campaigns of legislative candidates and officeholders who have a hand in gerrymandering voting districts to favor Republicans. Gerrymandering is why Florida's state government has been dominated for decades by the Republican Party.

     Voter turnout is the one defense against big money that has called the shots with the help of their stable of  Republican lapdog legislators.  That's why so many obstacles to voting have been put in place incrementally during decades of Republican rule as Florida's majority party.

Aaron Bean, the incumbent Senator I am challenging, was mentored by John Thrasher, who was named ALEC lawmaker of the year in 1999, right before Republican Gov. Jeb Bush took office. Thrasher helped Bush carry out the ALEC agenda for education which included high stakes testing and incremental steps toward privatizing public education. The ALEC agenda also worked to dismantle environmental laws, worker rights, and civil rights.  And Bean supported that agenda.

 

 

 

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  • Ben Martin
    commented 2018-06-24 15:34:19 -0700
    Ms. Bussard – what you say about the influence of special interests groups rings true. My mother is a senior citizen in District 4. She and other members of my family have received a false account statement presented by a Florida state chartered financial institution. It involves an account established by a veteran’s last will and testament – our father. We hoped Senator Bean would investigate and take a personal stance. He did not. Could it be that doing so would complicate things with his campaign contributors? Senator Bean receives significant campaign donations from banks and other entities connected to the financial services sector.