Tomorrow night, we'll see returns from the New Hampshire primary, the second contest in the Republican Presidential nomination. Most people think of this as an election, where voters go to the polls and select their preferred candidate. But I believe, and an increasing number of viewers believe, that our political system has become an auction in which the highest bidder wins.
If something about this election feels wrong to you, you're not alone. Here are 10 headlines about the political process that show why we need to end the auction by getting money out of politics.
1) The candidate with more money wins: From OpenSecrets.org on the 2008 elections: "In 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day Nov. 5, 2008 the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning."
2) Congress's main job is to raise money, not govern: A political director at a PAC shared this on Quora: "Here is a general rule of thumb for US House incumbents. They need to raise roughly $10,000 a week started the day they are elected."
3) 48 percent say most members of Congress are corrupt: A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 48 percent of "likely U.S. voters" believe that most members of Congress are corrupt. Just 28 percent disagree, and another 24 percent are not sure.
4) Voters think that cash is king: A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday indicates that 86 percent of the public thinks elected officials in the nation's capital are mostly influenced by the pressure they receive from campaign contributors.
5) No trust in elected officials: According to Pew Research, less than 25 percent of people believe they can trust our government at all, particularly our elected officials.
6) Outsider movements are quickly co-opted: According to Open Secrets, Tea Party House Members are even wealthier than other GOP lawmakers.
- 83% say of American adults say they have less trust in "politics in general" than they did 10 or 15 years ago;
- 79% say they have less trust in big business and major corporations;
- 78% say they have less trust in government;
- 72% report declining trust in the media.
- A surprising majority, 54%, "believe that my freedoms are being taken away."
Pew Research confirms this.
9) Cash determines voting. What shaped the House vote on the proposed Keystone Pipeline? Oil industry lobbying. Writes environmentalist Bill McKibben on TomDispatch of The Nation Institute: "Within minutes of the vote, Oil Change International had calculated that the 234 Congressional representatives who voted aye had received $42 million in campaign contributions from the fossil-fuel industry; the 193 nays, $8 million."
As we watch our way of life change radically, as we see our great country consumed by corruption and greed, we must have our own debates about what to do. You won't find these discussions in our presidential debates, dominated as they are by money that separates the voters from their candidates with a wall of cash. That's why those contests feel so empty.
The debates we need are the ones happening around tables all over the country. They're the ones I seek to host on my show. And they're the ones I wrote my book to support, offering a guide to this country's structural problems -- and solutions.
I'm profoundly hopeful about where these debates can take us, because I'm not the only one who wants a better way. We all do. And together, we'll make that better way a reality.
Dylan Ratigan, host of msnbc's "The Dylan Ratigan Show," discusses his new book, "Greedy Bastards: How We Can Stop Corporate Communists, Banksters, and Other Vampires from Sucking America Dry."