The influence of money in politics

There are a total of 535 Members of Congress. 100 serve in the U.S. Senate and 435 serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

These individuals must be elected every six years or every two years. The highest paid CEO in the US and the lowest income illiterate citizen in the US both have one vote. The election process is 100% equal.

What is not equal is the influence each individual has on those Members of Congress and on high level bureaucrats.

imageI was listening to an interview with Sen Elizabeth Warren this morning and as expected her cause was more money for social programs to be raised by attacking the tax code that gives subsidies to large industries; the oil industry was her example. When asked why these changes can’t be accomplished, she answered with one word, “money.” The problem as she sees it is the amount of money spent influencing policymakers, mostly Members of Congress like her. This from a politician who raised and spent $43 million in donations winning her Senate seat.

In other words, people with a lot of money and the ability to make the maximum and wide-spread contributions can buy Members of Congress so they support or not support legislation, influence regulation and who knows what else. But the influence does not stop with money. Career politicians need something to do after they “retire.” So the implied opportunities can also be powerful tools of influence.

Warren and company are so obsessed with this influence there is even a bill to amend the Constitution to give more control to Congress over political spending. Imagine that, talk about putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

According to the text of the proposed revision to James Madison’s 1791 handiwork, sponsored by New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, the states and federal government would have the power to regulate the “raising and spending of money” through a wide range of means “to advance the fundamental principle of political equality for all.” Wall Street Journal editorial 5-7-14.

Aren’t we missing something here? Aren’t we looking at all this backwards?

Who are the culprits, the influencers or the influenced? Who is not doing his or her job representing the people? Who is behaving unethically or even illegally? Who has moral lapses? Who is looking out for their own interests as opposed to their constituents?

The fundamental problem is not people with money, it is those who accept the money and who allow it to influence them. The fundamental problem is Members of Congress and their ability to make a career out of that membership. The fundamental problem is the moral inadequacy of our elected officials. Fix that Senators Warren and Schumer. Support term limits. Yeah, right!


  1. Ninety per cent of U.S. House incumbents have been re-elected to office over the past forty years.

    In real estate its all about location, in politics, name recognition.

    If challengers are restricted to the same amount of money as incumbents, that 90% re-election rate will be even higher.

    The only solution to better politicians is better voters. And the signs on that aren’t good.


    1. I think we have been waiting for better voters since the late 18th century.


      Richard D Quinn



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