Gyrocopter pilot Doug Hughes could face 9 years in prison
On April 15, people on the streets of Washington D.C. looked up to witness an incredibly bizarre sight. A lone man piloting a single-seat gyrocopter flew the aircraft too low through 30 miles of restricted Capitol airspace and in the Capitol Lawn.
The pilot was not a criminal, an ISIS operative, or even some sort of over-the-top Steampunk cosplayer. Doug Hughes, a Florida mailman, crashed his vehicle into the Capitol to make a statement about the role of big money in politics. As a result of his actions, he faces nine years in prison.
The action caused a big stir in the Capitol, with some even justifying the use of lethal force to bring him down, if necessary. However, his actions do voice the concerns that many Americans have about the role of money and the government, especially when it comes to campaign contributions. The Huffington Post depicts Hughes as a champion for free speech in this matter. When candidates become beholden to the whims of their corporate donors, these donors can essentially play an enormous part in how major legislation gets written.
According to PBS, candidates who generate more money during their campaigns almost always win their elections. Senate elections are won by candidates who spend the most money 82 percent of the time and a whopping 94 percent of the time in the House.
This is a problem that manifests on both sides of the political spectrum. Large political action committees (or Super Pacs) utilize a number of legal loopholes that essentially allow political campaigns to generate unlimited amounts of money. Hillary Clinton has spoken out against the use of Super Pacs in the past. To keep up with the other candidates though, she really has had no other choice but to utilize them herself.
All of this raises serious questions about the perspective of Doug Hughes’ legal proceedings. He may have broken several laws to prove a point, but we need to direct our attention towards a much bigger issue. America is a nation built on civil disobedience; his gyrocopter ride has become part of that storied legacy.
What do you think of Hughes’ statement to the Capitol? Share your thoughts by commenting below, or on Twitter @connerws.