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Progressive Bribery

by DOUG GIEBEL

A guest on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman urged that voters write to their representatives telling them to not accept contributions from tainted corporate donors.

On a recent Diane Rehm Show, Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd inelegantly dodged a question asking if he would support Elizabeth Warren to head the new consumer protection agency. Dodd opined there are many qualified people for the job.

Some believe the rumor that upon his retirement from the Senate, Christopher Dodd will take a position with Goldman Sachs and bring home sacks of cash for his willingness to cave in when Big Finance says “Cave,” for Senator Dodd has willingly helped water down legislation aimed at regulating industry. But, of course, Senator Dodd is not alone, and asking the current crop  in Congress to turn down big money handouts from powerful interests  would be like asking someone to avoid breathing for the next twenty minutes.

A “modest proposal” has no place in the political culture of hypocrisy, cynicism and greed where modesty and virtue are virtually unknown. How deep is the cynicism? Just listen to the standard response given by elected officials when asked if big campaign donations influence their votes. “Why, no. My vote is never influenced by those contributions,” they will reply with straight-faced sincerity worthy of any successful con man.

Some may ask, “How stupid do they think we are?” Well, my friends — and you are my friends — they think you’re really stupid, and you are. This goes for those Tea Party followers who believe that throwing the bums out of office will bring purity to the hallowed halls of Congress. They ignore the fact that a “system” has been developed by Big Money and Willing Legislators making it all but impossible for anyone to be elected to national office without plenty of cash or access  to cash through a willingness to play along with Big Money’s demands.

Earnest but naive progressives will fail to influence most in Congress with pleas to just say “No,” as they have mostly failed to get the  ear of President Obama once he swore the oath and entered the White House.  Money talks. Power talks. Money is power. Power is money.

This administration’s knee-jerk reaction to the Breitbart and Fox News hustle in the Shirley Sherrod debacle demonstrates how foolish today’s Democrats are when lies trump fairness, decency and common sense. Yes, President Obama and others offered up apologies to Ms. Sherrod because they had been caught with their proverbial trousers unzipped, but the climate of fear that has infected Democrats won’t go away. And Shirley Sherrod should have been invited for a face to face with our thin-skinned commander in chief. He chose the easy way out.

On the other hand, there will be no apologies from this administration after its eager face-to-face pow-wows with Big Money when writing legislation ranging from health care to financial regulation to climate change. No apologies, either, for the demeaning treatment of such honorable and creative  people as Van Jones and Dawn Johnsen.

Instead of begging for ethical respectability from politicians, progressives may have only one choice: If they can’t lick ’em, buy em.

The Obama campaign demonstrated that fired-up Little Guys (men and women who believed “change” was necessary and possible) would fork over plenty of loose change to help build a better nation. Many of those same Little Guys are disappointed because, as in a Frank Capra movie, their heroes turned out to be spineless slaves of the status quo.

Therefore the answer to reform in Washington may be to show them the money, pay to play, compete by shoving bundles of cash into campaign pockets and then demand responsibility, accountability, fairness, compassion and God-forbid  enlightened government in return.

As it is, so let it be.

DOUG GIEBEL welcomes comment: dougcatz@itstriangle.com

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