Way back in 1992 I worked for a US House of Representatives candidate in Santa Barbara, California, for the Green Party. One of our opponents was deep-pocketed Michael Huffington, whose wife at the time was Arianna Stephanopoulos, better known as Arianna Huffington. Yes, that Arianna, later of the Huffington Post. But that is not central to this story. Since one of the precepts of the Green Party was grassroots democracy, we promoted campaign-finance reform through public funding of elections. Any fool can see that congressional seats are usually sold to the highest bidder; case in point was Michael Huffington. This unknown newby politician, with beaucoup bucks from his oil-company daddy, had recently moved to a mansion in the tony suburb of Montecito. A carpetbagger, with no record of public service or relevant experience of any kind, but with an articulate wife as spokesperson, Huffington ousted a long-time Republican incumbent named Robert Lagomarsino who served from 1974-1992. He primaried Lago by spending a fortune on tv and radio ads, and the incumbent was trashed in a heartbeat. He then bombarded the tv and radio waves for months with relentless advertising, and walloped the Democrat and Green in the general election to win the seat.
Huffington subsequently became known as the "supposed" Representative from Santa Barbara, since he did next to nothing in Congress, except spend all his time running for the next US Senate Election in 1994. Through massive campaign spending once again, this empty shirt nearly defeated Diane Feinstein to become the Jr. Senator from California receiving 44.83% to Feinstein's 46.74%; party loyalty I guess. Rumor had it that Arianna was plotting to become first lady, since she was born in Greece and couldn't run herself, with Huffington to run for President next. When that didn't pan out, Michael served out his one term in the House, then came out of the closet and the couple got divorced. I guess the façade no longer paid off. But don't cry for Arianna as she didn't do too badly for herself in the end. None of that is of much importance except to illustrate the role money plays in elections when ambitious people use wealth to further their own selfish agendas, even though they have no qualifications for the job, or even desire to do the job! Some say that self-funded campaigns by wealthy candidates are more desirable than candidates that have to fundraise, because they are immune to demands from funders. But doesn't this true story demonstrate that neither one is very beneficial to the public?
Now this brings us back to our House of Representatives campaign and our advocacy of public campaign finance. Anyone with a pulse can see that money corrupts election campaigns, and lobbyists corrupt Congress. Our election system is legalized bribery. Everyone knows it, even if the Supreme Court tries to cover it up with abominable decisions like Buckley vs Valeo in 1976, claiming that money is "free speech". And then they pass an even more horrendous "Citizen's United" decision in 2010, saying that if money is speech, then people are entitled to give as much "speech" to politicians as they want through PACS and dark PACS. No legal cover can hide the fact that money bribes politicians, and the law is an ass. Witness the recent payoff to Zionist billionaire Sheldon Adelson for financing Trump's campaign, when Trump named Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Can you think of any other logical reason for it?
So if everyone knows that campaign finance is legalized bribery, why isn't anything done about it? This brings us back to my conversations with the electorate and why voters are cynical and give up on the process. During many campaign events I spoke to hundreds of voters and asked them if they support public financing of elections. Their answer was almost always the same, "I don't want to give any money to those @#%!*!!, dirty, rotten politicians!" My initial reaction was that voters are idiots, and their anger was misdirected at politicians, instead of the self-perpetuating money system they milk to get elected. But I can't really blame them, since Congress never takes any real action to change it, and the courts continually make it worse. The system feeds a sense of cynicism among the public that helps perpetuate itself, by disengaging them from politics, and leading most of them to not even vote.
Due to this experience I came up with the following diagrams, which are summarized in the chart above, which many people have not considered I guess. I think they bring clarity to the issue and illustrate how ludicrous it is that campaigns aren't publicly funded. At least that is my view. Of course, our political system is so royally screwed in so many other ways in need of reform, that it may be a moot point. But campaign finance is really at the root of the problem, radical in the true meaning of the term. So maybe putting it into this perspective can help. I'll give it a shot anyway. Please hear me out:
The average US Representative is elected at age 49, and serves for 10 years, after which they retire and receive a government pension for the rest of their life until the average life expectancy of 78.8 years. Finishing their term at age 59 means they receive a retirement pension for 19.8 years. I know it's different for men and women, but for purposes of this illustration it doesn't matter much. Add 19.8 years retirement to the term in Congress of 10 years, totals an average of 29.8 years of support at taxpayer expense. While they are in office, taxpayers are supporting the Capital building, the House member's salary, staff, office, telephone, utilities, travel, home office, meals, etc. etc. Taxpayers are supporting all of their expenses from the day they are elected until the day they leave Congress, and then support their retirement until the day they die, almost 30 years altogether.
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