In our current environment of a polarized nation and unbalanced media, it is not surprising that there is a lack of reasonable analysis and constructive conversation relating to overcoming many of the ills plaguing our country. The leading tragic issue that perhaps best symbolizes this vast divide is the vociferous disagreement about how to put an end to gun violence and the staggering death toll that it has inflicted on Americans, especially our children.
If we look back to the 1960s, we faced similar issues with gun violence and, unfortunately, there was a similar lack of solutions back then. Events such as the recent horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida, continue to generate anger, polarized conversation and frustration on all sides — but never resolution.
The cancer in our society is money in politics. It is the issue that politicians tout as a terrible evil in virtually every campaign but rarely dare touch once elected. During a primary debate, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE drove home the issue as he walked past each Republican opponent and stated how he had given donations to each of them. We all knew what that meant. The cancer, of course, is on both sides of the aisle.
The amount of money being donated to elect politicians is astonishing. Special interest groups and wealthy individuals would not be donating massive amounts to PACs and politicians unless they believed they would receive favorable returns on their investments.
It is time that leaders in our society stop hiding behind the cover of individual issues that are not going to be solved and strike a blow to the heart of the problem. We all know the fundamental issue, but who is prepared to do something about it? It is much like the Sean Connery scene with Kevin Costner in the epic film “The Untouchables.” Costner, portraying Eliot Ness, is committed to taking down the illegal distilleries. He asks Connery, a hard-nosed policeman, where the illegal distilleries are. Connery replies that everyone knows where they are, but who is prepared to cross the line?
Likewise, we all know that special interests’ unimpeded ability to give massive amounts of money to politicians is the malignancy that has permeated our political system and held America hostage. Just think of it: if our citizens were “held hostage” in a foreign country, there would be hell to pay but, in our own country, there are no consequences. Who is prepared to cross the proverbial line, and what can be done?
The answer is simple and could enable our country to solve our issues based on impartial analysis and a fair decision-making process built on the best interests of our citizens, rather than special interest groups. We desperately need a constitutional amendment making it unlawful for any individual, corporation, PAC, or other organization or entity to provide, directly or indirectly, funds or favors to any politician, political party, or political campaign under any circumstances.
If we can accomplish that, it could change America forever. Candidates’ campaigns would be equally funded by government, and no candidates would be allowed to self-fund. Think of it: fair, balanced campaigns, no lobbyists, and politicians answerable only to their constituents. And best of all, our representatives might actually act in the best interests of their constituents, rather than spend the majority of their time soliciting funds to get re-elected.
While utopia may never be achievable for America, let us dare to dream and to have the courage, leadership and will to create a better world for our children. Let’s take the money out of politics once and for all.
Lou Weisbach is CEO of Chicago-based Merch Time, LLC, and was the founding CEO of Ha-lo Industries for 27 years. He is the founder of The American Centers for Cures initiative, the former chairman of The Giving Back Fund, and the former chairman of the Jefferson Trust for the Democratic National Committee.