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Money in Politics
A Very Poor Yardstick by Any Standard


By Scott Rohter, July 2012

For most of the last century and all of the 21st century, America has been using the wrong yardstick to measure our political leaders. We have been using a poor measuring stick to evaluate and select our Nation’s candidates for public office. We have been measuring them by the wrong standard to determine who is qualified to lead our country, and who will be our President and fashion our foreign policy. We have also been using the wrong standard to select who will represent us in Congress. The same inappropriate yardstick has been mis-applied to almost every State Assembly race and gubernatorial campaign in the country for too long. It is unfortunate, but true.

This very poor yardstick that we have been relying upon to pick our National leaders for too many years has been their ability to raise large sums of money to finance their political campaigns. We have been electing candidates based primarily upon their ability to raise the capital that is necessary to finance their political careers. How stupid is that? The criteria for their success once in office has not been their experience, or their qualifications, or their character. It has been exactly the same criteria that was used to determine their success in campaigning, i.e. money.

The ability to raise the capital to finance their political campaigns should literally be of no consequence when it comes to determining the qualifications for selecting great spiritual, intellectual, or political leaders. And it should be of almost no consequence when it comes to running for an elected office too. If someone were starting a new business then they would need to purchase the raw materials or the machinery necessary to manufacture a particular product. If they needed to lease or purchase large amounts of warehouse space in order to acquire and maintain an inventory, that would be one thing. If they needed to purchase a large fleet of trucks in order to transport those products across the country, that would be another thing. Then the ability to raise the capital necessary to accomplish these goals would be an essential component of their success, but politics is not like that. Politics is not like manufacturing. We are talking about electing our Nation’s political leaders, not picking the captains of industry. We are talking about electing politicians, not hiring corporate CEOs.

Politicians don’t manufacture anything. They don’t produce products that have to compete with other products in the market place for the attention and the available dollars of American consumers. They don’t make anything that Americans can use, and are willing to buy. About the only thing that politicians manufacture are lies and political threats to our freedom. Great political leaders are few and far between. When they actually do come along they work only in the realm of ideas. Hopefully by promoting only the good ideas they can actually turn some of them into good laws. But there are always more bad or corrupt politicians than there are good ones. Congress does not produce a product that most Americans want. The only two things that Congress regularly makes are taxes and more regulations. If we weren’t forced to "consume the products" that Congress makes, then we would all probably like to give them their pink slips, and send them home.

It is probably reasonable to assume that after 235 years, American politics would have degenerated to the point where large, influential donors would be throwing their considerable weight around by waving money at politicians even on the floor of the House of Representatives, but it does not have to be that way. The political machine with its custom of "payola" and government by lobbyists only survives in Washington because we allow it. (Please listen to the short video listed under Corroborating Sources below.)

Great political leaders can be held to a higher standard. They can be held up by more than just the finances that support their corrupt political campaigns. They can be lifted up by the loftiness of their ideas. However until we get the bulk of the money out of politics, we are never going to be successful at getting the quality candidates that we need to run for high public office, nor will we be successful at electing leaders of great moral and intellectual courage to lead our country.


Corroborating Source Material
http://definingthemachine.com/

"The truth, the political truth, and nothing but the political truth.
A journalist has no better friend than the truth."
- Scott Rohter

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