Saturday, 23 September 2017

John Oliver Explains Congressional Fundraising

John Oliver Explains Congressional Fundraising

The power of long-form edutainment is nowhere more clearly seen than on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. His once-a-week late-night show provides a 15-to-20 minute “featured topic” on YouTube – a tactic that has elicited numerous viral hits and a loyal fanbase with ample Twitter prowess.

This weekend, Oliver took on Congressional Fundraising, an issue that should be near and dear to any progressive’s heart.

 

The way former Senator Alan Simpson (R – Wyoming) talks about his disdain for the fundraising process makes it clear that literally nobody enjoys the process. It’s gross. However, much worse than any Senator’s feelings is the revelation (to me at least) that the Democratic Party requires payments of between $125k and $800k to the party – a tactic Oliver likens to “gambling debts”. The process itself creates a system where elected officials are spending the majority of their time reaching out to people who are making at least “half a million to a million dollars” according to Chris Murphy (D – Connecticut).

As Oliver points out – this creates a huge problem. When politicians only reach out to the rich, the working class is left out of the conversation and a whole lot of time gets spent fighting estate taxes and regulations, and not spent improving education systems and strengthening communities.

Oliver interviews Steve Israel (D – New York), who admits to going to at least 1600 fundraising events – about one every 3 days over a sixteen year career. Check out the video above to watch him describe the depressing “call centers” of the party.

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While Oliver does certainly roast Israel, he never asks him –  now that you are retiring from public service, will you walk through the revolving door and begin lobbying for public interests?

Time will tell, but I have a feeling he’ll be employed in just a few years.

-RB

Ryan Black is a documentary filmmaker, political consultant, and digital media professional who writes about Progressive Politics.

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