Southern Politics

The Senior Senator from Kentucky and Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has issued a preemptive dither about the prospect of corporations contracting with federal agencies having to disclose contributions to candidates for public office whenever they exceed $5000 in a single year. The Washington Post refers to it as a “slam,” but, from my observation of McConnell, a dither is more likely than a “slam,” and certainly there’s no dunk.

“outrageous and anti-Democratic abuse of executive branch authority.”

Does have the ring of strength, until you consider that to accuse a Democratic chief executive of being anti-Democratic is to indulge a self-vitiating claim. But, clearly, the Senator has reason to be annoyed.

Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell

“Just last year, the Senate rejected a cynical effort to muzzle critics of this administration and its allies in Congress….Now, under the guise of ‘transparency,’ the Obama administration reportedly wants to know the political leanings of any company or small business, including those of their officers and directors, before the government decides if they’ll award them federal contracts.”

“Let me be clear: No White House should be able to review your political party affiliation before deciding if you’re worthy of a government contract,” McConnell added. “And no one should have to worry about whether their political support will determine their ability to get or keep a federal contract or keep their job.”

Aside from the fact that “the political leanings of any company or small business” are irrelevant since artificial bodies don’t have political leanings and don’t get to vote, taking political party affiliation into consideration is a Congressional prerogative and the executive has no business stepping on his turf.

Just when the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case seemed to have given clear sailing to unlimited corporate contributions, the suggestion from the White House that donations from contractors should be available for public inspection turns up. However, considering that most contributions (bribes), aren’t voluntary to begin with and relatively minor in any event, any reporting requirement is unlikely to be particularly informative, unless we understand how the extortion actually works — how a corporation like Koch Industries is prompted to pressure it’s employees to vote right, as The Nation has revealed.

On the eve of the November midterm elections, Koch Industries sent an urgent letter to most of its 50,000 employees advising them on whom to vote for and warning them about the dire consequences to their families, their jobs and their country should they choose to vote otherwise.

The question has long been asked why American workers keep voting against their own best interests. Here we have the answer. If the choice is between two evils, then it’s logical that they would go with the one that at least puts “food on their families.” And, while the “dire consequences” might well be delivered by the corporation providing the directive, any threat to the private corporation clearly originates elsewhere — i.e. with public officials whose primary interest lies in keeping their powers to approve and dispose. In other words, the electorate’s votes are being extorted with negatives. Who knew there were so many facets to the Party of No?

And, to be honest, it’s not just Republicans following this strategy. Now that the internets have revealed the potential clout of individual donors, there’s not a day goes by without some potential calamity about to be visited on us by the “other side” being touted to extort monetary and electoral support. If we don’t recognize the extortion, it’s probably because good people don’t expect their representatives to be crooks. Moreover, the success of triangulation rests on true agency being disguised. Besides, who knows who’s responsible for “dire consequences” that don’t materialize? How do you prove extortion when no money changes hands?

So, why is McConnell dithering? Must be he doesn’t want it known who’s not doing anything.

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Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."