By Chris Rossini
For quite some time now, there has been a steady stream of cries to "get money out of politics". The government is bought and paid for by billionaire oligarchs, and if we can just ban the buying and selling of politicians, everything would be much better.
Superficially, I can see how someone can fall for this line of thinking. Unfortunately, it only analyzes the effect of the problem, and not the cause.
Unsurprisingly, many of the same people who want to "get money out of politics" don't necessarily have a problem with a very powerful government. They like the powerful government, they just want people who have little material means to call the shots. This crowd is trying to have their cake and eat it too.
Lobbying, bribery, and the buying of politicians is a result of powerful government. The bigger the government, the higher the price tag in influencing it. The bigger the government, the higher the stakes when an unconstitutional law gets passed. No one wants to be on the receiving end of a law that should never exist in the first place. And so a bidding war ensues.
Strip the government of all the powers that it should never have, and the bribery will wither away. Ron Paul was in Congress for 30+ years. Why did lobbyists walk right passed his office door? Why didn't they ever bother to knock? It's because there was no advantage that Dr. Paul could provide for them. He swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and that's exactly what he did. A law to "get money out" did not have to be passed. Dr. Paul just did what he said he would do.
Sadly, most politicians do not take their oath of office seriously. Their inauguration is just a show. When they raise their hand and promise to uphold the U.S. Constitution, they're really just telling the first official lie of their term.
Let's (hypothetically) imagine that it were possible to get money out of politics. The situation really wouldn't change much at all. Money is not the only way to bribe someone. In fact, the number of ways is probably very close to infinite!
Let's say you want to influence a politician, but can't give him money. Well, you can offer him an exclusive job for after his term ends....and you can pay him whatever he wants. Or, you offer an array of other material objects that get around the "money" restriction. The number of ways that bribery can take place is limited only by the imagination.
Who would still have the greatest means to buy the politicians? The wealthiest amongst us. Very little, if anything would change.
The only way to get rid of the swarms of lobbyists is to reduce the power and size of government. If government is unable to tilt the scales for anyone, then there's really no point in buying anyone off.
Unfortunately, the "get money out of politics" crowd just doesn't get it.