Bundles of Love
Things could always be better!
Campaign Reform Laws
Did you like "Charlie Wilson's War"?
Patrick Murphy, (a
registered "Decline to State" Independent
I sat there listening to a group of Carlsbad seniors discussing politics and weighing in on whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would become the next Democratic contender to take on John McCain. Thanks to Obama, McCain can stay in people's minds instead of being forgotten until July or August. McCain has a limited amount of fame for having attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to clean up American politics via the McCain-Feingold Act and others to supplement and enhance it.
The reason that the act failed so miserably is because evil finds its way into the system regardless of its laws. Our dilemma is that we let the devil into the system in the first place. Then we spend billions trying to get the devil to behave. The rich and powerful have always run the political planet through less than ethical means. I think most of my readers would agree or they wouldn't be here in the first place. In the ancient tradition, the Republican and Democratic parties have come up with new creative ways to circumvent the intent of campaign reform laws. In the end, since in a democracy we are technically the rulers of our destiny, the faults in the system are ours. Revealing who contributes money is convenient and links to opensecrets.org abound on this website. However, this does not clean up the system, partly because few pay attention and mostly because it endangers the essence of our democracy and the secret ballot that protects voters from retribution from employers, landlords and the government itself.
This came to forefront for me while perusing the Carlsbad, California City Council campaign contributions. I noticed that various upper management employees of Grand Pacific Palisades, a company that does a lot of timeshare development, which is also doing quite well in Carlsbad, had donated money to some City Council Campaigns. Of course, this exposes the fact that the corporation would like a city council that is responsive to its needs. Most of us assume that is why the company contributes. Sometimes they contribute to both sides for what we may presume to be"insurance." Microsoft does the same thing on a National level. However, imagine working for the company and presuming that it behooves you to contribute to the boss's choice of recipient. Worse, if you do not contribute, perhaps you can lose your job! Therefore, you may decide to contribute to someone you don't agree with or don't know anything about, in order to get promoted or to keep your job or simply to satisfy your boss. The contribution, over $100 is a matter of record. Your boss can simply go to the City Hall and look up the campaign statement to see if you donated or not. The boss could then decide that those that donated the most, get the promotion. Hence, with this kind of so-called correction to political campaign funding, we inadvertently defeated the intent of the secret ballot. Sure, you could vote for the other guy, but to protect your job you contributed to his opponent. And we all know that politics has always been about money.
Another example is called bundling, some of which is legal and some illegal. The idea is that to avoid contribution caps, I give all my friends a certain amount, say $500 if they agree to give a certain amount, say $400, to my favorite candidates. This could turn out to be a win, win, win situation for my friends, my candidate, and should he do as I want him to, me! It would appear that I'm spreading the love. However, it usually doesn't work out too well for the community as a whole. Nobody is spreading the love to them. It can and often does result in higher taxes, more smog and traffic and a loss of private property, especially real estate like the family farm.Sometimes it is transferred from the owner to a larger private entity for the suppossed benefit of the community. This result is seldom the reality. Usually it is simply a government assisted transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the rich and powerful.
Contrary to popular opinion, the solution does not lie in campaign reform laws. Instead, it lies with "we the people." We all must demand candidates that simply don't take the money, at least not from special interests, developers and corporations. Look at the Clintons, in the whole for 6 million in 2000 and now up 34 million in 2008, or at least prior to her current dispute for the nomination with Senator Obama. Running for office tends to leave a lot of politicians much, much richer. Far more money is dumped into their campaigns than most will ever make from the salary at the job.
We must demand folks that are not "on the take." This includes and is especially important regarding you local city council. You must seek and promote good people that also refuse to take the money. They are out there, but it is your responsibility as an American to get them into the job. The Internet is making their money more and more irrelevant. Here's how you do your part:
Corruption requires your Vigilance
Evil will constantly try to circumvent your best and most responsible efforts. There are so many tricks of the trade. I've seen my own Rocklin City Council use a plethora of them. McCain, Clinton and Obama have also used them. Most tricks rely on the fact that the public is so uninformed and apathetic. They assume you will keeping voting for the status quo. They assume you will find council meetings too boring. Evil doers will assume that you are a sheep, lemming or ostrich. Your job, is to help me prove otherwise. Join me and become a responsible American.
Michael Patrick Murphy is the author of two books. The Greens ISBN 13: 9780595133055 and The Government, ISBN 0-595-30863-5. Both are available online or from your favorite bookstores by special order. Mike also ran for the California State Assembly in 2006.
Mike can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org