The Democrats have started hearings on HR1, a comprehensive anti-corruption and voting rights bill, and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets to participate, which is great news for all of us.
With only five minutes on the clock, AOC asked her witnesses about the (virtually nonexistent) limits on corruption in Congress: establishing that a Congressmember can fund their campaign entirely with anonymous corporate money, use the corporate money to pay off people who have evidence of official wrongdoing, then propose legislation that benefits the companies that funded them, while holding stock in those companies and being vastly, personally enriched from their "public service."
Then, for dessert, AOC establishes that presidents have even more power to use their office for personal gain. If you thought her debut speech was amazing, well, she was just getting started.
It's not like any hearing you've ever heard, and AOC's plain-language, charming socratic dialogue leaves little room for weaseling, dissembling or disagreement. This is a broken system, and it's not hard to see how it got broken, nor what it will take to fix it. The lack of "political will" to address corruption and self-dealing in Congress isn't about "political will" at all: it's greed, pure and simple.
In less than five minutes, and with the witnesses replying with barely more than a “yes” or “no,” Ocasio-Cortez gets across to the viewer:
* just how openly corrupt the current political system is (“you’re going to help me legally get away with all of this”); the lack of meaningful safeguards against corporate capture (“Is there any hard limit that I have in terms of what legislation I’m allowed to touch … based on the special interest funds that I accepted?” “There’s no limits”) how vulnerable the office of the president is in particular to moneyed influence (“Every person in this body is being held to a higher ethical standard than the president of the United States”) and that the very people serving with her on this august committee are most probably compromised by these interests too (“We have these influences existing in this body, which means that these influences are here in this committee shaping the questions that being asked of you all”) That she does it all through the medium of a classroom game and with a sense of fun makes the whole thing even more remarkable to watch.
AOC Is Making C-SPAN Fun [Branko Marcetic/Jacobin]