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Why Americans Think Politics Is Corrupt

After living in Massachusetts, I left the Northeast for the  first time to go to grad school at the University of Minnesota. While I lived  in the Twin Cities, the Democratic Farmer-Labor Gov. Wendell Anderson was re-elected  to a second term. At the beginning of his new term, the governor created a  crisis in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes by making one of his money  guys a member of his cabinet.

Coming from Massachusetts and being used to the hurly burly  of Bay  State politics, I found this scandal surprising. After all, back home   there would have been an uproar if the governor hadn’t appointed his  financial contributor to the cabinet. But Scandinavians brought a good  government ethic to  Minnesota. Massachusetts is Massachusetts. In the  Bay State political deals are  sealed with cash. The last three speakers  of the Massachusetts House of  Representatives have all been convicted  of corruption.

In the last couple of decades, American politics has become  a lot  more like Massachusetts politics and a lot less like Minnesota’s. There   was a time, long ago and far away when people frowned on the appearance  of  impropriety. Now politicians don’t even seem to care about actual   impropriety.

Political pursuit of the almighty dollar is why voters have  so  little trust in Congress to do the right thing. As a radio talk show  host, I  hear over and over again from my listeners that legislators are  in the tank  with big business. I don’t share this skepticism since I  have worked with many  men and women of great integrity as a political consultant. But perception is  reality in politics and as long as people  believe that politicians are trading  their votes for cash, Americans  won’t have any confidence in Congress. And in a  democracy, the process  will only work if the people trust the system.

The only effective way to restore public trust in politics  is to get  big money out of the system. The best solution would be public  funding  of campaigns. But that’s not realistic now since the Supreme Court  opened  the financial floodgates last year in its infamous Citizens’  United decision.  Because of the Court’s ruling, voters will be at the  receiving end of a  hurricane of violently negative campaign ads over  the next year which will  destroy whatever is left of public trust in  government.

The next best remedy to restored trust in government is to  force the  networks and individual TV and radio stations to give free time to   political candidates. The networks receive billions of dollars in  federal  freebies every fiscal year since stations do not have to pay  for the right to  use public airwaves. It’s time for the media to make  the same kinds of  sacrifices that working families are making to keep  this country strong.


By: Brad Bannon, U. S. News and World Report, December 2, 2011

December 3, 2011 - Posted by | Big Business, Democracy | , , ,

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