St. James’ movie on political $ prompts debate

pay2playSt. James UCC advertised that they were convening a “non-partisan” viewing of a movie at 7 PM last Tuesday to consider how campaign finance compromises democracy and representative government.

David Weintraub said, “Wherever you are on the political spectrum there seems to be pretty broad agreement that the way campaigning is done is negative, distasteful and drives people away from engagement.”

David publicized the movie, “Pay2Play,” among other ways, on Facebook, at Lovettsville 20180.

Frank McDonough led the charge, however, posting an FB dissent, testing how “broad” the agreement actually was about the perils of campaign finance, claiming the advertised movie was too liberal, and attacked David, saying: “I have followed your editorials in many local papers for a few years. I am reasonably sure that I have never agreed with any of them.”

Warner Workman, Jr., said, “I would much rather be lied to a[nd] feel good than hear the truth.”

Frank said, “As far as your Pastor [Don Prange] I have never met him, either but imagine my surprise when my family in Charleston WV called to tell me that he had been arrested there at a UMW rally.”

David responded, “I am very proud of my pastor. It’s easy enough to sit in church and wring our hands and say ‘Isn’t it awful how those people are treated?’  To put your own body on the line, as in the very robust Christian tradition of the civil rights movement, back to Abolition and beyond, takes courage and commitment to the life and teachings of Jesus.”

David invited Frank to come to the movie and the discussion afterwards, stating, “I’m just curious how it is that this issue, the vast amount of money in politics, is framed as partisan. Isn’t there big $$$ on both sides of the aisle?”

Frank said he couldn’t attend the movie or discussion.

There was a full house at the St. James’ common room – perhaps, in part, because of the Facebook exchanges.

Kathee Meyers was offering to red-ink-stamp paper money, warning the denomination stamped was “[not] to be used for bribing politicians,”  “It’s partly subversive but it’s 100% legal,” Kathee said.

“Pay to Play” is an expression that was widely repeated nationwide when Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, tried to “sell” the U.S. Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated when elected President in 2008.

More recently, in Virginia, we had the corruption prosecution, conviction and two year sentence imposed upon Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican, for receiving $135,000 in gifts, loans, trips and more.

The movie questions the impact of the Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, on the electoral process.  Is a corporation a person with rights?  Is money really free speech?  Does the debate matter if that’s the law?

The message, nonetheless, was when corporations and the wealthy spend so many dollars on political campaigns, do they buy support for their private interests at the expense of what’s in the public’s interest?

In the discussion that followed, Kathee characterized the choice as between democracy and plutocracy.

Malcolm Baldwin said that gerrymandering, relentless fund-raising, well funded broadcasts with half truths and outright lies misinform the voting public’s discretion.

Kathee said, funds buy “false robo calls in the final days of the campaign.”

“The game is dirty,” Chuck Hedges said.

“Only 28% of the voters showed up to vote,” said Kathee.

Chuck said, “I don’t know how you get fire under their a – – – s  to show up at the polls.”

1 thought on “St. James’ movie on political $ prompts debate

  1. Alex Greenberg

    After Supreme Court decisions like Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United, our government is going to the dogs–I mean, the billionaires. America has become an oligarchy. I’m mad as hell and I’ve been trying to get the word out like Kathee Meyers through stamping my money with “Not to be used for buying elections”
    –>it’s an awareness campaign: …I don’t want to be sitting around doing nothing as our democracy gets taken from us by self-righteous fat cats who think their philosophical views make it OK to buy elections and our politicians.

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