Lee Camp: How US government was bought for $14.4bn

Crazy money is now spent at US elections by corporate America. Little wonder the two main parties are so unpopular

This article was originally published by Scheerpost

This past weekend, I was sitting in my hot tub, that’s really just a bathtub, that’s really just my neighbor’s bathtub that he lets me use when he’s out of town and doesn’t know I found his apartment key – and it occurred to me: I don’t think most Americans are happy with our political system. I don’t know why not. 

I’ve got it! I just remembered. It’s because both mainstream parties are owned by corporate America, stand for the same shit, and they haven’t actually been face-to-face with a regular blue-collar human being since they fathered the first of their 14 children and the surrogate mother happened to bring her boyfriend to the birth (or as the rich call it, “the human baby transfer to its rightful owners”).

And sure enough, a new survey verifies that most Americans are not happy with the false choice between two political parties. The new poll from NBC News found that the Democrats and Republicans are about as popular as the horseback hemorrhoid clinic located near where I live.

The Hill reported, “According to the poll, 44 percent of participants said they viewed the Republican Party negatively, 34 percent that they viewed it positively and 21 percent said they were neutral. … The Democratic Party’s ratings in the poll were fairly similar, with 48 percent saying they viewed the party negatively, 33 percent saying they viewed it positively and 18 percent saying they were neutral.”

Plus, I imagine those positive numbers are actually higher than they should be, because anyone willing to take an NBC News phone poll is already not the sharpest tool in the insane asylum. That survey doesn’t count the vast number of respondents who did not answer, but instead graphicly described what the pollster could do to themselves given the right kind of genitalia, lubricant, and a Posturepedic adjustable bed (but you have to burn the bed afterwards).

There are a lot of reasons so many people hate the two corporate parties, but one of the biggest ones might be just how thoroughly they are bought off by the “One Percent.” (And no, I don’t mean the percentage of people who like Trident’s new Indian Curry Explosion™ chewing gum.) I’m referring to the One Percent who are disgustingly wealthy – people who own ponies for their children to play with and children for their ponies to play with. Those individuals essentially own all our politicians. (Also for their children to play with… Which explains why Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were forced to dress up like Snorks for an entire month. Or maybe they just needed the snorkels to be able to breathe while under an avalanche of bullshit?)

But yes, our politicians are more bought-off than ever before. A new analysis from Americans For Tax Fairness found that total billionaire contributions have soared over the past few years. The cycle before the Citizens United decision only saw $16 million worth of donations from billionaires to campaigns. This past cycle saw $2.6 billion worth of donations. 

And how does that much money impact our elections? Well, the candidate who spends the most wins in the Senate around 80% of the time and wins in the House close to 90% of the time. But the reality is actually worse than those two numbers illustrate, because they don’t cover the fact that the two parties who spend the most money win 100% of the time – a third-party (non-corporate) candidate basically wins 0% of the time. Only the puppets of corporate America get to fill the Senate chambers with their endangered species ragout spittle and high-end beer farts.

But I’m sure it’s just as bad in other countries, right? Some things are universal, like existential angst, or the awkwardness when your barber starts telling you about his botched prostate exam. But the multibillion-dollar purchasing of elections, it turns out, is not a global phenomenon. 

In Britain, as the BBC reported, “In the 2017 general election, 75 parties and 18 campaign groups reported spending more than £41.6mn between them.” That’s roughly $54 million American dollars at the time.

Meanwhile, as OpenSecrets has noted, just two people – the late Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam Adelson – “set a new record for donations from individuals in a single election cycle [2020], giving $172.7 million.”

Just two casino magnates spent three times as much as all of Britain on their elections. (Sheldon Adelson is now dead. We don’t yet know if he was able to bring the politicians he purchased with him.)

Well, what about France? In France, “… the amount of money a presidential contestant is allowed to spend during the campaign for the first round is limited to 16.8 million euros. The limit is raised by an extra 5 million euros for the two finalists competing in the second round.”

So basically, French presidential candidates spend less on their entire campaigns than Bill Gates spent on the Mylar happy birthday balloons he bought for Jeffrey Epstein in 2016. Ironically, the balloons spelled out, “You’re not old. It’s just that everyone around you is underage!” (It was funny at the time, I’m sure.)

How about Germany? Do their oligarchs own the system as much as in the US? Deutsche Welle reported, “In 2017 … parties spent €92 million ($109.6 million) combined on their election campaigns, according to the Federal Statistical Office.” Only $109 million spent on their elections, and yet still a Zungenwurst with a bow tie won a seat in the Bundestag. (Zungenwurst is a form of tongue sausage, but arguably several tongue sausages also won US Senate seats during the last cycle.)

So, all of this begs the question: How much did the US spend? The 2020 election cost $14.4 billion. That’s more than the gross domestic product of Mozambique! And they have Makonde masks that help with fertility – so you know they’re bringing in some cash. (If I had wanted to go for the pun, I would’ve said “you know they’re movin’ some units.” But I would never do that.)

Point being – This. Is. A. Rigged. System.

No wonder the latest polls show both corporate parties are thoroughly disliked. It’s time to acknowledge that our system has been 100% purchased by the One Percent, and that even the best candidate on their best day is still no better than a Zungenwurst.

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