Ready to elect a CEO to the McWhite House?

October 14, 2010

(ChattahBox Op/Ed News) – Ugh, just plain ugh. It’s easy to be cynical when talking about politics and money. Even while being cynical I’m still a hopeless optimist. But when your cynicism is proven to be justified, you just gotta say “ugh”.

We’ve all joked about the corrupting force of cash in politics and we’ve all resigned ourselves to this sad fact. But not even the most cynical of cynics would’ve believed that our political system could be bought and sold so boldly and so transparently. But it is.

As I type this 3.5 billion dollars has been spent on this election cycle. If that doesn’t shock you, you’re more cynical than even I am. The total cost for the 2008 election was 5 billion. Yes, that’s a ton of cash but remember we were buying, er, I mean electing congressional candidates and a president. In order to get elected to high public service you need lots of cash and luckily for those running there is no shortage. Money is pouring in from every where. I could’ve sworn we were just coming out of recession, but what do I know?

Money is pouring in faster than Miss Lohan can knock back Red Bulls and vokda. Speaking of California women, Republicans Carly Fiorni (Senate)  and Meg Whitman (Governor) are spending large chunks of their own personal fortunes in a bid to buy their seats. I mean, when you are unliked, have no real political experience, offering failed retreaded policy platforms and have more money than a legal marijuana baron, what else are you gonna do? Meg Whitman alone has spent a reported 140 million bucks of her own fortune.  Not bad for a woman who made her money selling other people’s chatski. In contrast her Democratic opponent, Jerry Brown,  has spent only 10.7 million bucks!!!! Even with a 10 to 1 spending advantage, Meg Whitman is so unlikeable she trails Brown by at least 5 points!

What’s sad about each of these races is that it took cash and only cash for these women to become candidates. One could argue that their experiences in business gives them insight into governing.  I also understand the anti-incumbent, anti-career politician sentiment out there but could they be in the position they are in now if it weren’t for their personal fortunes? It’s hardly possible for anyone to enter national politics without a mountain of cash behind them. This leaves us with a government run by haves, telling the have nots to suck it up and find another low paying job, because your last one was sent overseas.

As we send jobs overseas it looks like the US Chamber of Commerce or as I like to call it “The unofficial fundraising arm of the Republican party” , is raking in big bucks from overseas companies. So far, almost one million dollars in rupees, dinars and pounds has been identified. Because the chamber is a non-profit they do not have to disclose how much money they are funneling into campaign races or where the money comes from. One thing for certain lots green will be spent. At least 75 million dollars according to the chamber with the vast majority of it going to Republican candidates. It might be different if the chamber would tell us where the money comes from but they flat out refuse. What are they hiding and who are they protecting?

This is not to say the Democrats are not chasing every campaign dollar they can sniff out. They are, that’s how the game is played. What’s tragic about all of this is, it’s just part of the game. To paraphrase the great Packers coach Vince Lombardi, “in politics money isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” What’s made matters worse is even more money has entered the arena. When the Supreme Court led by it’s five conservative judges ruled that corporations have the same rights as people to free speech and because free speech equals campaign cash, this opened the corporate world’s coffers and the life blood of campaigns started to flow.

One thing is for certain it’s not going to stop anytime soon. Let me don my cynics cap once more, it’s not going to stop because most of players don’t want it too. More and more our politicians get elected because they have money or because people with money believe they can get more of it by supporting their guy. Good guys like Russ Feingold, a proponent of campaign reform are fighting to get reelected. Just a guess here, he’s probably not a favorite of corporate America, therefore there will be no Brinks trucks rolling up to his campaign headquarters anytime soon.

So there it is America. Money is flowing like a tidal wave of Hungarian industrial sludge and at least for this year there is nothing we can do about it. When the muck has cleared and we see the devastation it caused are we going to have the desire to change the system? More importantly are we going to have the strength to change it? Do we as individual citizens still yield the power in this country or will corporate America’s right to free speech drown out our voices? I honestly do not know the answer. I do know that time is running out. If we do not change the way we finance elections soon, you’re going to have a CEO sitting in the McWhite House.


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