Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Growing Wariness About Money in Politics

The Washington Post has an interesting analysis regarding the influence of money into politics:

For several years now, corporations and other wealthy interests have made ever-larger campaign contributions, gifts and sponsored trips part of the culture of Capitol Hill. But now, with fresh guilty pleas by a lawmaker and a public relations executive, federal prosecutors -- and perhaps average voters -- may be concluding that the commingling of money and politics has gone too far.

After years in which big-dollar dealings have come to dominate the interaction between lobbyists and lawmakers, both sides are now facing what could be a wave of prosecutions in the courts and an uprising at the ballot box. Extreme examples of the new business-as-usual are no longer tolerated.

Republicans, who control the White House and Congress, are most vulnerable to this wave. But pollsters say that voters think less of both political parties the more prominent the issue of corruption in Washington becomes, and that incumbents generally could feel the heat of citizen outrage if the two latest guilty pleas multiply in coming months.

No fewer than seven lawmakers, including a Democrat, have been indicted, have pleaded guilty or are under investigation for improper conduct such as conspiracy, securities fraud and improper campaign donations. Congress's approval ratings have fallen off the table, in some measure because of headlines about these scandals.

"The indictments and the investigations have strengthened the feeling that people have that in fact there's too much money in Washington and that the money is being used to influence official decisions," said William McInturff, a Republican pollster with Public Opinion Strategies. "Polls show that neither party is held in high regard."

Interesting that a Republican pollster admits the basic fact that there is too much money into politics. When you've got corporations donating millions of dollars for no-bid contracts, ubber-lobbyists like Jack Abramoff throwing gobs of money to anyone in Congress--or the White House--who's willing to vote for the lobbyist's benefactors, you're going start to witness a breakdown of our country's democratic ideals--where individual citizens have the right and power to affect their government's decisions through their individual votes. We're slowly becoming a nation of oligarchies--where giant corporations and rich elitists have accumulated too much power and are using that power for their own self-interests, even when the self-interests are contrary to the nation's greater well-being. This is a dangerous path we're taking.

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