There’s little wonder that politicians and lawyers are often the butt of jokes. It’s not a coincidence that obscene amounts of money have done contributed to the perception of greed for both professions–even tainting them to the point where the fallout comes right back to us. Unnecessary, and even illogical legislation and regulation, pork barrel spending with no public input, malpractice costs ultimately passed on to consumers, frivolous lawsuits–it can go on and on. All of these issues are the end result of an ever-present abundance of cash. When it gets to the point where there is so much money within the process, it’s naive and foolish to believe that the people in these systems will make noble self-corrections or fixes. To be more specific, the amount of money in politics has created a more convoluted process that is fed by an abundance of cash. It’s not going backwards. Is today’s political process good for America and for Americans?
It’s hard to imagine how so much money in the election process can be viewed as good if there is a nagging perception that your vote means less than it did at one time in history. Many people in America had to fight for the right to vote–remember the women’s suffrage movement and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which closely followed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Today’s vote is supposed to count the same way for each participant in the process as it did 47 years ago, but today’s staggering amount of money that funnels through election campaigns led to numerous instances of voter fraud and manipulation over time. Money and greed has a negative effect on the moral compass of participants in the political process. Instead of honest debates and the discussion of ideas, today’s politics are more often about smears and misrepresentations of the opposing candidates–taking the low road instead of the high road–and politicians will do just about anything to win and keep the money flowing in their direction. It’s easier to beat up the opponent than to make a case for being the better candidate. To make comments that put down an opposing candidate by stretching the truth is disingenuous if not outright dishonest. It’s often done today because the practice of mud slinging seems to work best in reaching the least sophisticated voters, who often fail to do their own research when it’s time to pull the voting booth lever.
The saddest commentary of all of this is that it doesn’t have to be this way; however, many Americans suffer from an acute lack of desire to learn more about the candidates, let alone care who is running. Voter apathy is the greatest enemy of the political process, but some candidates use the malaise of the voting public to their advantage. The amount of money in politics has pushed many people who started out as faithful public servants into political insiders that respond faithfully to the almighty dollar. Before you consider how things like pork barrel spending and the amount of money involved in the political process is not all that important, think very carefully about where all of this money is coming from. If you say it comes from corporations, you haven’t thought long and hard enough. As a taxpayer (assuming you are paying taxes), are you confident that the federal government is prudent and efficient in how they handle your money (not their money–your money)?
There is one thing that we can hope and pray for about the participants within the political process–to have candidates for office that are sincere and have the foundational moral character that is not easily overcome by the abundance of money. Here is something else that can be done right now for this and future elections. Whatever you do this season, take the time to look at the candidates involved and make an intelligent decision for who you believe is the best candidate for leadership–this is the way it should always be when preparing for Election Day. Don’t waste your God-given right to participate in the process. Too many people who have come before us fought very hard for the right to vote. Your freedom to participate in the process should never be compromised with complacency.