Jaywalking vrs Murder - A Congessional Viewpoint


"If we have a murder and a jaywalking, we maybe ought to look at the murder." This was Sen. Fred Thompson, Republican chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee (and year 2000 presidential aspirant), on why his top priority is to investigate fund raising violations by the Clinton administration rather than the many equal violations of the Republicans.

With that sweet little statement in mind, just which party can claim the "Perpetual Two-Faced Greed and Self-Serving Nonsensical Quote Award"? You guessed it, the GOP. What was my criteria for determining the winner of this first (and probably last) annual award? Well, basically all it took was the unquestioned ability to damn your opponents for the acts at which you, yourself, are far more adept at generating even higher revenues with. It's that simple, citizens. You, too, can play at naming your yearly champion.

What facts were gathered to assess this determination? It was merely the reward ratios each party attached over the years to certain perks versus campaign contributions. The Republicans, their angelic rhetoric and finger pointing aside, have excelled at this quid pro quo arrangement for many, many years. Want facts?

During the 1996 campaign, while President Clinton was renting out the Lincoln Bedroom for the unheard of bargain price of $100,000 per night, the Republicans were offering "Season Ticket Holders" (the GOP's name, not mine) the privilege of: private meetings with committee chairs, lunch with House and Senate leaders, a reception with the presidential candidates and all of this with a party staffer always on hand to quickly solve "problems". The cost of these small perks? Why, just $250,000 per person.

The Republicans, being the party of the everyday rich, as well, didn't want to appear elitist. If you couldn't afford to buy a presidential candidate, you could buy your way onto the "Governor's Board". With this passport into the belly of the beast, you were gifted with attendance at a conference of Republican governors as well as dinner with the governor of your choice. Rather makes it all seem so, well, so much like a buying a hooker, doesn't it? The price tag for this servant's door entrance into Republican chambers? Why, a paltry $40,000 per, in 1995 (no price tag available for '96 or '97).

While both parties kneel before their contributors and pretend that we, the citizens of America, no longer exist, campaign finance reform is dying a slow and painful death in Congress.

The McCain-Feingold Bill would ban soft money (the major culprit in the last election's abuses), limit PAC contributions and set voluntary spending limits for Congressional (though not Presidential) candidates. Who could possibly oppose such a measure? You might be surprised. The groups opposed wouldn't normally want their names written in the same sentence but are, nonetheless, actively attempting to put this bill out of their potential misery with the least commotion possible. Who are they? The biggest players are the National Education Association, the National Right to Life Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Christian Coalition and the National Association of Broadcasters.

Why would these groups oppose any solution which would bring some small sense of honesty back into politics? Well, for instance, the Christian Coalition figures the bill would make it more difficult for its members to pass out voter's guides during church services , the National Assoc. of Broadcasters worries that TV revenue would fall from a reduction in political advertising and the National Education Assoc. doesn't like the idea that PACs might eventually be eliminated. Good, sound reasons, don't you think? Truly American in the best way?

And what special rationalization are these disparate groups touting as their almighty shield against any form of campaign reform? Why, the good old First Amendment! Their right to purchase the politicians of their choice is in danger, here, folks. Quick! To the battlements! Their right to subvert the democratic system is in dire jeopardy and must be defended even at the cost of participatory democracy or, at least, whatever is left of it!

So, let's review, shall we? The Republicans took in $216.4 million dollars more in soft money in 1995-96 than the Democrats, in the process charging two and a half times more for the same privileges (except the Lincoln Bedroom thing which they lost access to in '92), and want to investigate only the Democrat's fund raising since Republican's have only committed "jaywalking" type offenses as opposed to "murder". Secondly, an unbelievable coalition of radical far right to far left groups are actively destroying the best current attempt at negating the over-arching control of money in politics and hiding behind the First Amendment in the process. All this and the constant claim that we are still, somehow, a democratic nation.

Okay, all of you who still believe that they have a voice in the system but refuse to exercise your right to vote, please get out of the way, reality is gaining on you. Those of you who vote straight party lines rather than think for yourself, go stand beside the others. Those of you who listen to media entertainers claiming to be political gurus and then vote the ticket they support, just go away altogether.

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