If you are the average Joe or Jane, chances are you feel your government doesn’t pay much attention to you – and you’re probably right.
Your chances of dining with your Representative or Senator or spending the weekend with them at their summer home are pretty slim. The likelihood of even getting them on the phone is pretty remote, and you probably get little more than a form reply to any letters or e-mails you send their way.
There’s an easy way to solve this attention deficit problem, however: Contribute big bucks to your office holder’s campaign. There is a direct correlation between the amount of your giving and the amount of the attention you will receive from political insiders. And if you really want to ratchet up the attention you get, don’t just give money to your favorite politician, get others to write checks to them as well! Just make sure that you are the one who delivers them. That’ll get you noticed!
The reality of the “your check will get you noticed” culture that is Washington, D.C., is not lost on the special interests. They invest in political campaigns as a cost of doing business, expecting that if the object of their gifts prevails they will get a return on their investment. Usually that ROI comes in the form of tax breaks, subsidies, earmarks, immunity from liability, or some other form of special treatment. That’s why they’re called “special” interests.
More often than not, to protect their investment the special interests will insert their minions in government to ensure that their agenda is carried out. These representatives of the special interests enter government for a time, draft or secure the passage of legislation that favors their interest group, and then leave through the door through which they entered. It’s called the “revolving door” and it is constantly cycling representatives of the special interests in and out of government through its portal. After their period of service and “sacrifice” in government, said minions are welcomed back into the arms of the special interests from whence they came and amply rewarded for their labors. They are no longer minions, but moguls.
Exhibit “A” to this process is Obamacare’s chief architect, Elizabeth Fowler. Ms. Fowler is a former insurance executive who left the private sector to work in government and help craft Mr. Obama’s signature legislative achievement. She has now returned to the private sector to work for pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson. According to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwold:
“And now, Fowler will receive ample rewards from that same industry as she peddles her influence in government and exploits her experience with its inner workings to work on that industry’s behalf, all of which has been made perfectly legal by the same insular, Versailles-like Washington culture that so lavishly benefits from all of this. It’s difficult to find someone who embodies the sleazy, anti-democratic, corporatist revolving door that greases Washington as shamelessly and purely as Liz Fowler.”
Greenwold’s piece highlights the incestuous relationship between Big Business and Big Government in America. It’s the classic “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” arrangement, and it’s why the common good is so often sacrificed in favor of the agenda of the moneyed interests.
This is nothing new – it’s been happening since the beginning of the Republic. But just because it’s been happening since the beginning of America’s democratic experiment doesn’t mean it has to continue. It’s bankrupting the country! The voters do have the power to stop such nonsense, and it starts by penalizing these influence peddlers at the polls.
Until America becomes a nation where politicians are punished for selling themselves to the highest bidder, nothing will stop our country’s perilous decline towards complete insolvency. Are there leaders out there who will put the good of the country ahead of the good of the special interests? Are there voters who care enough about the future of this nation to disable the revolving door through which those interests are served?
Only time will tell. Unfortunately, time is running out.
Ken Connor is an attorney and co-author of “Sinful Silence: When Christians Neglect Their Civic Duty” He is also Chairman of the Center for a Just Society.
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