First, read this: Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: Some Choice Words For “The Select Few”
It’s the same old argument criticizing lobbyists and money in politics. But I ask, if we elected the right people, why would it matter if the lobbyists were trying to influence them? However, I don’t think we generally elect the right people, and I believe there are two major reasons for this. The first is, as Bill and Michael mentioned, money in politics. Through this means, corporations and wealthy individuals gain a disproportionate influence over elections. Yet I still wonder exactly how important money is to getting elected. Let’s think of a race for a seat in the House of Representatives. Will the “right person” be able to win with slim funds? This is hard to believe, since political ads seem to be so influential in determining the winner. However, educated and pro-active citizens won’t be fooled by these ads, which brings me to the second major reason we don’t generally elect the right people: the low percentage of these types of citizens.
Expanding on the issue of money in politics vs. education in the citizenry, let’s think of two scenarios. In the first the education system is miraculously reformed and the large majority of the citizenry is no longer fooled by corporate-backed campaigns. So in this scenario money in politics wouldn’t even be an issue since it would be ineffective. However, we are very far from this educational Utopia, and we can’t even expect to ever get there since it will take that very educational Utopia to get us there. So now what if we did reform campaign finance? Would this be enough to not only help the citizens make the right decisions, but also bring forth the right candidates to the competition? For what good is an educated citizenry if there are no decent candidates for them to choose? Is this problem of the quality of candidates equally serious? It could be, but I really don’t know. What do you think?
Update – 7/11/09
Money in Politics