You would think this is not a blog post that needs to be written, right up there with “Why legalized murder is bad” (if the Purge movies weren’t enough of a lesson there).
But many on the right (and some Dems such as Hillary, as the Clinton Cash book makes clear) really do approve of our system of legalized bribery, encoded in the Citizens United and related cases. This discussion is related to apparently politically motivated police raids targeting various supporters of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Now, routine use of heavy-handed door-busting tactics by jackbooted thugs is indeed wrong, whether targeting rich white donors or working-class black inner city dwellers. Conservatives are correct to decry the nature of the raids.
However, the donation campaign that triggered this response seems ethically murky at best. According to conservative writer David French, here’s one example:
There is the secret $700,000 donation to [Walker front group] WiCFG from an out-of-state mining company, Gogebic Taconite, which at the time was pushing for an open-pit mine in Northern Wisconsin (and got it, after Walker won re-election).
That’s as clear an example of quid pro quo as possible. The mining company gave Walker’s proxy a briefcase full of cash, and so got their desired mine as a reward. It’s no less blatant of a bribe than the one the crooked congressman took on an episode of The Simpsons, which is not a cartoon noted for subtlety.
But this does not bother French, who notes that as distasteful we libtards might find these corrupt dealings, we have to accept them because they are legal. And I have no doubt that he is, sadly, correct on the law:
The Left may despise the current state of campaign finance law and First Amendment jurisprudence, but their fear and loathing does not render lawful political activity unlawful.
Indeed it doesn’t. But “legal” is not the same thing as “moral,” as this social conservative surely knows. And I can decry the legality of this bribery as ferociously as he decries the legality of abortion.
And the reason why a system of legalized bribery is bad is because it is the diametric opposite of the (small-r) republican ideals of public service and “one man, one vote.” In an ideal world, the wealthy and powerful should not have vastly more sway over the Governor or Mayor than us plebes, or else you get Tammany Hall. (Can you believe that Republicans were the chief opponents of Tammany? How times have changed.) True, we do not live in an ideal world, but at least we can work towards our ideals, rather than against them while surrendering to cynicism and degradation in the process.
This pay-to-play system of dark money and unlimited secret contributions to officials that conservatives and the Clintons all support, leads inevitably to a kleptocracy, where openly corrupt officials proudly accept golden telephones from those who wish to change the rules, and the commoners have no say at all. This is the system in place in much of the Third World, as well as certain Second World countries such as Russia. Is that really where the country should go?
Or is that where America already is?