Saturday, January 23, 2010

Legalized Bribery

I have never given a dime to a candidate running for political office. And I never will.

When I ran for city government I didn't take a dime in donations. I, of course, lost. However, in the race I was in, no amount of money would have made a difference, and I didn't run to win, just to raise awareness of the issues.

The reality is that money corrupts nearly everything, but it holds a special place in its heart for politics. And we can be clear on one thing: from a Constitutional point of view, there is absolutely no doubt that the Framers of the Constitution never intended money to be protected as "speech." Jefferson and Washington would have vehemently - if not violently - opposed such nonsense. Adams and Madison are a little tougher to gauge. Franklin never would have taken a donation, but he certainly wouldn't have opposed someone buying him a drink over which to "discuss" legislation.

From a purely practical point of view, here's a good question: if I can give a candidate $10K and you can give him $10K, and then we can form a "corporation" and give him a million, then how is that not double-dipping and circumventing restrictions in the first place? How can the "corporation" fully represent the views of its employees and its stockholders when there is certain to be disagreements? If you can't give a politician $90K in cash to vote on a bill, but you can give him an equal amount "for his re-election campaign," how have we not completely abandoned rational thought.

Judicial activism or not, money has become "free speech" - irony of ironies - and nothing is going to change that or control that. Thus, it simply becomes more of an imperative for voters to be well informed in the area of policy, as well as argumentative strategies used to manipulate them.

Never gave a dime. Never accepted a dime. Never will. And now I will just continue to vote my conscience.


Nancy Swan said...

Michael, you and your readers may be interested in visiting my website and following me on Twitter at

My book Toxic Justice the true story of my toxic injury while teaching school and my epic fight for justice that caused me to become a judicial reform activist, particularly to limit influence on judges.

And yes, SCOTUS did legalize bribery.

Paul Swendson said...

What do you think of public financing of campaigns? To me, elections should be judged by the quality of each candidate's policy ideas, not by the amount of money they are able to raise. Why not give each side equal time and money and let them make their case? Political advertising, after all, is mostly pure crap that provides little if any information.

mmazenko said...

From what I've been able to discern over the years, public financing is a great idea that will simply never happen. I'd love to see. However, it couldn't be mandated, and there are simply too many factors. However, as the information era grows, we may reach a point where candidates will choose that approach on their own. I see a possible future - far, far, into the future - where money has no influence because media access will be too available and, thus, there will be no reason to buy commercial time. As I said, way in the future.

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