A Shining Example of Campaign Finance Corruption


Posted by Bob Lord

I've tended to place campaign finance lower on the list of ills we need to address than others do. It's not that I disagree that the system is screwed up, but that I think campaign finance is only one of many corrupting factors in politics. Contributions from wealthy donors indeed are a form of bribery, but there is a more potent form of bribery: the pot of gold that awaits any Rep or Senator willing to carry water for an industry during his career in office. 

After watching last night's Real Time, however, I've moved campaign finance up on my list. Maher had a very funny panel, with one exception, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. DWS was humorless and spoke only in centrist Democratic talking points, often not germane to the conversation. It was uncomfortable watching her.

But I digress. For those listening carefully, DWS gave us a glimpse of the rank cynicism of American politics. At one point Maher and the other panelists were ridiculing the Cuban embargo. DWS then gave an absolutely pathetic defense of the embargo, which Maher destroyed, at which point DWS pointed out that her feelings about the embargo had to be her true feelings, because she has very few Cuban constituents. 

Okay, Debbie, you've acknowledged that the Cuban embargo is ineffective and that your defense of it is not motivated by loyalty to your constituents. That leaves only one conceivable explanation: Your lengthy list of Cuban campaign contributors. 

The Cuban embargo obviously is not the most pressing issue of our day. But it would be hard to find a more blatant example of the raw power money has in our political system. 


  1. It’s a tough call, but perhaps it’s the combination. If it were only the Great Retirement Plan, you’d see more reps leaving after 3 or 4 terms of carrying water for their favorite interest group and cashing in. But they tend to stay far longer than that. For most of them, the path of choice is to stay in their seat until their 60s or so, then cash in. So, they’re willing to defer the pot of gold because they like it in Washington so much. Which I guess provides them with dual motivation to serve their corporate masters. The campaign contributions keep them in office; the pot of gold provides that comfortable retirement (and wealth to pass on to their kids).

    If we were to address the campaign finance side of the corruption (yeah, right), the dual objectives of these corrupt reps at least would be in competition. What they would need to do to stay in office for more terms might not be the same as what they would need to do to cash in when they retire.

    From this perspective, by the way, the effect term limits would have is highly questionable, as the Great Retirement Plan would become the dominating influence in their votes.

  2. Is it campaign finance, or is it The Great Retirement Plan? When I see how many of these people leave government “service” to get highly-paid jobs as lobbyists or corporate execs or whatever, I think mere “campaign finance” cannot possibly explain all of their anti-democratic behaviour.

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