Have you ever, like me, found yourself wondering, while watching or listening to politicians on what passes for the news these days, “Who are these people?” Have you ever found yourself wondering what makes them tick?
Trust me, you’re not alone. Inquiring minds want to know.
Now, I’ve come up with an idea that may help us figure it out as we wend our way through the muck and mire of political web sites, press releases, official bios and and talk radio/TV.
But first let’s step back in time to the 1960s in California, where I was cutting my teeth on a career in journalism. The most prominent legislator at that time was a gent called Jess Unrue, speaker of the California state assembly from 1961-69, backer of Robert Kennedy’s short-circuited presidential campaign, and ultimately a backer of anti-war presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Jess might not have been much good at getting elected himself, but he could get things done, and he was a blunt speaker. Perhaps his most infamous utterance was the candid reminder that “money is the mother’s milk of politics.” Couple that thought with “all politicians lie” and the famous Watergate advice from Deep Throat to “follow the money,” and you’re ready for NASCAR Politicians.
Here’s the idea: We’ve all see the clips of NASCAR drivers wearing their racing gear, all festooned with sponsors’ logos, as they give thanks to every sponsor while offering comments on how they managed to drive their way to victory.
The way I see it, it’s essential to know who politicians are and who is behind their actions, so why not make a law requiring all elected officials to wear NASCAR-style costumes with logos of all their sponsors prominently displayed. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see at a glance who each politician is really working for?
As for those donors, they should be required to fly banners at all of their places of business with a list of all the politicians they’ve bought and paid for. Then you could decide whether you wanted to do business there or not. We could require lobbyists in DC to wear sweatshirts or T-shirts bearing their corporate logos when they’re wandering the halls of Congress distributing their cash wads, too.
They say seeing is believing, but in this case, once the logos are affixed, it will be seeing is not believing.
TOM THOMPSON is a recovering journalist. He lives in an RV at various locations around the Southwest.