Dark money is such a pervasive mainstay in our modern discussion of politics in the United States that it is easy to avoid thinking about it. When Donald Trump talks about backing his campaign financially with his own corporation, or when Hillary Clinton claims to be using the system to fight the system, it can be especially hard not to imagine someone watching on a screen and nodding slowly, happy to know that their interests are safe and secure.
It may be just as hard to imagine how this money is actually obtained. Maybe it is obtained through the means of an unusual meeting in a politician’s schedule, or a private phone call that nobody questions.
A recent court document from an investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign practices was leaked to the public, shedding light on not only how deep the money goes, but how oddly procedural asking for money from A-list actors is in the political machine. In the emails, fundraisers are to-the-point about who to ask and how, whether it was Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson or the Koch brothers. These emails date back to 2011.
Money has become such a casual aspect of the wheels that keep political structures functioning that there is no point in even being subtle about the blatant need for it. Long gone are the days of back-alley envelope exchanges or donations. There is no longer a point to these methods. The goal now is to be as efficient as possible and make sure that emails like the John Doe Papers do not make it to sources like The Guardian, which initially received the leak and went into detail about the discovered documents.
The Supreme Court of Wisconsin had initially ordered the original John Doe Papers closed when they came up during a federal investigation, arguing that they could not be submitted as evidence of financial irregularity under the guise of misinterpretation of campaign finance laws.
All copies of the emails were locked away and deleted except for one, which someone gladly leaked to The Guardian upon its rediscovery. Every third-party group that received funds that eventually went to Walker have vigorously denied any accusations of inappropriate financial manipulation. However, it is there in the emails.
There is nothing mysterious or hazy about the content. Every time something so ridiculously clear happens regarding the corruption of our representatives or the “job creators,” almost nothing is done. In the era after Citizens United, it is not even clear if anything can be done to reign in the disgustingly blatant stink of big money. Every act is like another wound found on our national body, but no one is willing to treat it. It is pointless to even try to reiterate the point because absolutely nothing gets done in order to correct the issue anyway.
Every time Walker asks for money to fund his recall election, Trump blatantly admits that politicians can be bought, or whenever Bernie Sanders crusades against the influence of Wall Street, the point must be stated over and over.
Walker needed money because the state decided he was a terrible governor who needed to prove himself to his people once again. He decided to simply siphon off as much money as he could to stay in his office instead of actually attempting to change or, better yet, resign.
We have to remind every reader, every voter, anyone who has a desire to make a change in his or her country that this will not stop unless it is completely exposed. In order to eliminate this problem, the public must remain active and vigilant.
The end of corporate money has been maintained as one of the main themes of the 2016 presidential election. This is ironic considering that both Clinton and Trump have been accused of being a corporate shill and the corporate interest, respectively.
As slow as it may seem, this is the kind of dialogue that we need right now, as a country and as a society. We need to acknowledge the issue and work to address it as a democratic nation.
If Trump succeeds in becoming president, a world where the corporate interest is the top priority, beyond the scope of the people and their needs, can be expected. It is a scenario few want to imagine and many are trying to work against.
If Clinton gets the win, the status quo is likely to not change all that much. After all, she is trying to position herself as President Obama’s successor. But if she really is playing the system to break it, it would be really interesting for us see her put her money where her mouth is—for everyone.