Sunday, May 20, 2012

Money and Politics: Paying for Power

The election funding issue has become obscene. 

Where once upon a time people sought public office in order to serve their fellow citizens, now they seek office in order to enrich themselves and in many cases build a base of rich and influential backers in order to seek higher and higher positions. The higher the office one seeks, the richer they must be personally and/or the richer their supporters have to be. 

Too often, I suspect, those backers aren't putting their money behind the candidate they believe espouse the best policies for the country, have the clearest vision and most workable solutions for the problems we face as a nation or who possess the higher integrity as a person. Rather these backers are in essence buying the office. They are paying the going rate to ensure the election of a person sympathetic to their interests and who they expect will reward the backer's contributions with favorable legislation. What else explains the refusal of any politician from any party to seriously limit campaign funding?

In our market economy political office has become just another commodity to be bought and sold by those with the most money. Funding a presidential candidate has become the ultimate capital (perhaps; capitol) investment. The Citizens United decision and the creation of superPACS make it clear that politics is a market in which only the wealthiest have the sufficient means to play. The concept of representation is dead. What percentage of the American public do Obama and Romney represent? The wealthy, the best-educated, the most powerful and influential. They have no idea how the average American lives. 

If Mr. Smith went to Washington these days he'd never get past the Capitol guards. He'd have no more influence on politicians than the average citizen. Primaries and the electoral college ensure that the average citizen has little to no influence on the outcome of elections. All of our politicians are bought and sold by those with the largest stake in what decisions the politicians make in office. That stake has nothing to do with what's best for all our citizens. It is solely based on profits and the increasing of power and influence by those who pay to get their candidate elected.
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