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Friday, August 25, 2006

Votes are Supposed to be What it's all About; Not Money

Karl Rove was speaking to an audience in Ohio the other day. The event was a fundraiser and Rove was clearly talking to Bush's constituency. From Associated Press:

Presidential adviser Karl Rove criticized a federal judge's order for an immediate end to the government's warrantless surveillance program, saying Wednesday such a program might have prevented the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Headlining a fundraiser for Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who is running for governor, Rove said the government should be free to listen if al-Qaida is calling someone within the U.S.

"Imagine if we could have done that before 9/11. It might have been a different outcome," he said.

There's so much wrong here. The government is free to listen to calls, Ken Blackwell's corrupt as hell, and Karl Rove's -- well, Karl Rove. At the end of the article, we get this line, "The event attended by about 50 people raised $165,000." That means the average gift for the event was $3,300.

Contrast that with this op-ed by John Nichols about an appearance Russ Feingold made recently:

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold's decision to hold one of his listening sessions on Madison's Allied Drive put him in a place where most members of Congress never go: among those who are on the losing end of a nation with warped priorities.

Senators and representatives spend plenty of hours with the "winners," especially when it comes time to collect campaign contributions from the rich who have been made richer by unsound tax cuts, the recipients of all those no-bid contracts to manage the mess in Iraq, and the beneficiaries of the Bush administration's various and sundry deregulations, trade deals and so-called "reforms."

But the Americans who pay for these misguided policies both with tax dollars and with a steady decline in federal commitment to aid those who need it most seldom see senators.

As the piece suggests, the Allied Drive neighborhood isn't the best neighborhood in Madison, WI. Too many politicians of either party spend time with the people on the low end of the economic scale only to have their photos taken with grateful recipients of government largesse. And that aid only comes when things get unimaginably bad -- it's hard to imagine Bush in the poorer sections of New Orleans if it weren't for Hurricane Katrina.

It's as if politicians believe that these people are outside of the system; instead of citizens and voters, they see them as problems. And the solutions to these 'problems' don't make a lot of sense in the context of their neighborhoods. For example, it's hard to imagine an NRA shill's argument that more guns equals less violence flying in neighborhoods where gun violence hits hardest and the problem is clearly too many guns and too few resources.

The right used to talk about 'pulling yourself up by your bootstraps' out of poverty. Think about that metaphor for a second. Imagine someone trying to do that physically -- grabbing straps on their boots and trying to lift themselves. It's an apt metaphor, since it's nearly as impossible metaphorically. Basically, it's telling the poor to stop bothering the government and take care of their problems themselves; something that Karl Rove and Ken Blackwell probably didn't tell those attendees paying an average of three grand per
seat at the fundraiser.

Who is most likely to be able to take care of their own problems? The old saying is 'money talks'. In our system, money convinces. And it usually doesn't have the best solutions, since the people the biggest chunks of money represent are paying entirely in their own self-interest.

Anyone who thinks that big donors want nothing but good government is a brain donor. Democracy needs more listening sessions like Feingold's and fewer big money fundraisers with special interests.


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