The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Legalized bribery?


According to an article appearing this morning in USA TODAY the "red tide" that swept the nation last November has resulted in multiple legislative and regulatory victories for major GOP donors (Gee, what a surprise!).

Though the Bush administration thus far has failed miserably in their attempt to deliver the "crown jewel", social security funds, to the heavy contributing financial services sector, other important legislative victories have been won for their faithful cash rich contributors.

I'm not going to analyze every legislative/policy victory won by major GOP donors mentioned in the above article, but some are very disturbing. It has to make one question if the public interest is being served, or a norrow special interest group. Also, I'm not suggesting that special interest don't have their "hooks" into democrats, but by far when large corporate interest need legislative favor they turn to the GOP, and President Bush.

I was under the false impression that the Campaign Finance Reform Bill sponsored by Senators McCain and Feingold was suppose to remedy this unabated system of "legalized bribery". Unfortunately, like a car thief trying to figure out a new vehicle security system, both political parties found porous loopholes in McCain-Feingold and were able to circumvent new campaign finance laws.

So where does that leave the 99 percent of us who don't have a net worth of 10 million dollars, or have a seat on a corporate board? Well, for now, I'd say your screwed. But other than sitting around and feeling depressed what can you do about it?

First, I would suggest becoming a paying member of an organization that advocates something you feel passionate about, and yes this will cost money (remember the other guys have loads of money to burn, so even a $25 dollar membership can make a difference) . For instance, I'm a contributing member ($50 dollars a year) to the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating for governmental fiscal responsibility, because this is something I personally feel passionate about.

Another important "reform" that might help to curb the unfair influence that special interest have on our legislators is to advocate for term limits. Regardless of party affiliation, when legislators become entrenched incumbents (and thus don't have to worry about being reelected, because it is virtually guaranteed) they tend to become more interested in partisan politics instead of representing the best interest of their constituents.

By imposing strict term limits, we can transform congress into a group of "citizen legislators" instead of a group of partisan career politicians who are likely to get addicted to free flowing special interest money. This reform would be very, very difficult, because a group of career politicians would have to authorize such a radical change, thus making it a virtual impossibility.

Until true reform is made, all we can do is expose and publicize instances in which financial contributions lead to legislative or regulatory favor that truly are not in the public interest.

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