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Voices / Letters from readers

Elections and policies are for sale -- pure and simple

Like others, I’ve been angry since the Citizens United decision, and before, about the role moneyed interests play in deciding our national elections and policies. And that anger has been spreading.

There are now at least seven serious proposals to amend the Constitution, particularly to say that corporations are not people.

That’s important. But it would do nothing about the underlying problem: that our elections and policies are for sale. The fact that they’re for sale for some reason gets less attention than the fact that they are bought.

We are shocked by the corruption in other countries, where elected and other officials are on the take. Why are we not equally shocked by the corruption here?

Colluding Congresspeople say “My goodness, no! Those gifts [that come especially when big business interests are at stake] in no way affect my votes!” And donors say they’re only trying to help the best people get elected.

But they’re usually lying. Votes are being bought and sold. If they weren’t for sale, there’d be no need for a Constitutional amendment.

And the selling could be pretty effectively stopped, if there were total public financing of campaigns.

It would also help if Congressional ethics committees would acknowledge vote-selling as their basic ethical problem.

But, until it’s plainly named and widely discussed, there’ll be no adequate pressure for change, our corruptness will continue, and a Constitutional amendment only slow its growth.

Byron Stookey

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Originally published in The Commons issue #160 (Wednesday, July 11, 2012).

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