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RESPONSE TO NELSON HORTON

Reader comment on item: Reflections on Obama's Inauguration
in response to reader comment: The Real Government

Submitted by DANIEL REDMOND (United States), Jan 23, 2010 at 13:11

I agree with the comments made by Mr. Horton. Sad as it is, the fact that the election process of our country has been corrupted by the influence of money is irrefutable. And it has been that way for a long, long time. I think that the first president to address the issue was Teddy Roosevelt, who made some inroads against the growing political and social power of monopolies. In Roosevelt's time---the late 19th and early 20th Centuries---the United States was well on its way to becoming nothing more than a northern version of a banana republic with virtually all wealth concentrated in the hands of an oligarchy of corporate owner/managers and their elected flunkies. Perhaps the single greatest equalizer of power was the creation of labor unions which led directly to a more equatable distribution of wealth and, eventually, to the development of what we now call the "Middle Class," which is the backbone of our nation socially and economically. But government is still largely manipulated by special interests and most politicians deserve the dismal reputation that they have.

I read some time ago that the average U.S. Senator must spend a minimum of six million dollars on a re-election campaign to have any chance of winning. This means that he or she must raise nearly $3,000 per day seven days a week for their entire six year term in office in order to keep their job. No wonder that so many of them turn to the deep pockets of corporate America to fulfill that monetary goal. And there is, of course, always a quid pro quo in such arrangements. Industry lobbyists have been known to actually settle down at a desk, by invitation, in a senator or congressman's office and, with the help of their staff, literally pull out their laptops and write the laws they want proposed in the Senate or on the floor of the House of Representatives.

In recent years we've seen the development of a new phenomenon---the super-rich politician simply buying power out of his own pocket. This has occurred in the past---as in the case of Nelson Rockefeller (former governor of New York), his brother Winthrop (former governor of Arkansas), and John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV (U.S. senator from W.Virginia)---but has now become more common with such people as Mayor Bloomberg of New York City, a multi-billionaire who has spent more than sixty million dollars of his own money on each election bid and bullied the City Counsel into rescinding mandatory term limitations so that he could serve a third term in office. What is the answer to this? To effectively level the playing field for all candidates it would become necessary to limit the amount that can be contributed by any single source, including oneself, to any campaign and to simultaneously limit how much any candidate can spend on a campaign. Absent such restrictions we will continue to see those with the greatest financial resources remaining in the driver's seat of our government. I am a relative youngster compared to Mr. Horton, but at age 61 I've learned enough to realize that this isn't likely to happen anytime soon, as it would take the passing of laws by the very people who are currently in office due to the unfair realities of the very system we need to reform. - DANIEL REDMOND

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