On the EDge: Protesters walk, but money talks

Composite stock images, St. George News

OPINION – I was pleased to see so many people take to the streets to march in protest of the president’s environmental policies this weekend.

It is comforting to know that so many others understand that we have but one planet and that we’d better get off our backsides to try to save it.

But, while I was pleased to find so many like-minded people, I was dismayed because, well, other than getting some good exercise and a little TV time, not much else is liable to come from their efforts.

To “The People Who Matter” – those elected and appointed officials who could affect real change on our planet – the marchers were little more than a bunch of wannabe hippies or holdover diehards from the ‘60s who still believe their voices can be heard.

The marchers were not alone.

Just the other day I read how the members of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, who have been feuding bitterly and vowed never to perform again together because of some egregious insults and vicious infighting, are thinking of burying the hatchet and reuniting in an effort to get the people to rise up and kick this administration to the curb.

Other than Bob Dylan, there is nobody who writes songs of protest or social significance better than CSN&Y.

But, remember how long it took those songs of protest these guys wrote all those years ago to bring an end to the Vietnam War.

So, while the large numbers protesting are a rather strong show of solidarity, I don’t know that they are significant enough to make the changes they are demanding. Not in today’s world, at least.

Another step needs to be taken and after all the miles are marched and the signs are put away these activists should invest their time in another area: raising money.

The only thing our legislators respond to these days are dollars from lobbyists and special interest groups. If CSN&Y is truly interested in seeing change, if the protesters are so sincere that they are willing to take on the establishment, then it is time to fight in the only way that will give them a chance to succeed and that is with dollars.

Big dollars.

From the tiniest of municipal elections to the grandest political stage of all – the White House – money talks. It’s not enough any more to march, carry signs and shout clever slogans. All that will get you at this point is sore feet.


We’ve seen how that works.

It’s a rich man’s game now and you’d better have some deep pockets if you want to play, otherwise you’re just an interested bystander.

No, if these folks truly wish to flex some muscle, it better come behind a wad of bills thick enough to choke an elephant.

As a longtime fan of CSN&Y I would love to hear new music, love to see the sap flowing again in a passionate way, love to see them put more purpose behind their brilliant harmonies.

But, with their political strength, I would also like to see them put the touch on some of the ultra-rich to form an organization to raise the money it would take to make real change happen.

The pharmaceutical industry handed over a whopping $240 million last year to lobbying efforts.

Know why there has been so much opposition to the Affordable Care Act? Try on the $157 million the insurance industry paid through lobbying efforts to win votes in Congress.

While that is a lot of money, it is small potatoes when compared with the $1.4 billion Hillary Clinton had for her campaign or the $1 billion Donald Trump had for his.

And, because it is not for election purposes, the well-heeled progressives are not limited in how much money they can raise or donate for lobbying efforts.

Many of us were raised with the naïve promise that any one of our number could emerge as President of the United States, that if good ol’ Honest Abe could rise from lowly means, so could we.

That fairy tale is long dead and buried and with it, a large part of the idealism that fueled a generation that believed it could take to the streets, find strength in numbers and fix that which was broken.

The purity of such endeavor was praiseworthy honorable, moral.

But, it simply will not work today at any level.

You can’t even oust a bad city councilman these days without a hefty bankroll.

I remember 2006 when a couple of well-qualified gentlemen – Pete Ashdown and Jack Carter – were hoping to land Senate seats in Utah and Nevada. They met with the money people at a huge fundraiser in Las Vegas and asked Sen. Harry Reid for some help with their campaigns.

Reid asked them if they each had $1 million to contribute to their campaign.

Both men, including one who is the son of a former president, said no.

Reid told them: “When you get a million dollars of your own, then we can talk.”

It is pitiful, but that’s how it works, unfortunately.

So while the marches and protests are noble, they are fruitless.

To win these high-level battles you must be similarly equipped and that means money.

So, if these people are serious about making change, if they are sincere in taking on the current establishment, they need to be properly armed and that means cash, a mountain of cash.

Otherwise, they will be about as effective as somebody who carries a knife to a gunfight.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

No bad days!

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Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

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