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Special interests?

By Keith D. Cummings
web posted March 8, 2004

It's one of the most common attacks in American politics. John F. Kerry, the ultra-liberal junior senator from Massachusetts is trying to claim that he is different from President Bush. According to Kerry, he is the only one who isn't beholden to those dangerous groups who use their financial power to influence politics. Already evidence is surfacing that Kerry has received large donations immediately before the Senator has intervened on behalf of the donor. That alone makes his claim is ridiculous on its face, isn't it?

The truth is, the rallying cry of John Kerry's campaign is just a rewording of John McCain's idiot attacks on the First Amendment of the Constitution: money influences politics. Neither claim is true, because both claims extend from a very simple, but vital flaw. Politics don't follow the money; the money follows politics.

Most individual contributions to politicians are based on party. Those among us who appreciate the historical positions taken by Democrats, from welfare to Medicare, vote at the ballot box and with our checkbooks. We give money to the candidate we favor in the hope that he or she will vote our principles wherever it is they serve. Likewise for Republicans supporting the War on Terror and individual rights. Candidates affiliate with parties to receive financial assistance in their runs, immediately associating themselves with platforms and positions on most major issues of the day.

However, Kerry and McCain would have you believe that every politician, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Communist comes to the political stage with no ideas, no principles and no plans. These men and women, from Maine to California, announce their candidacy with nothing more than a desire for power. What they will do with that power is open to debate.

If you believe Kerry, et al, you believe that it's the campaign contributions that are the ultimate determiner of the positions and even the party affiliation of the candidate. John Kerry would have you believe that he would be a Republican if "Big Oil," "Big Tobacco" and the NRA had brought him enough money in the 1970s. George W. Bush is only a Republican because NARAL and the Sierra Club didn't bid high enough.

Of course, this makes no sense. The NRA and Club For Growth don't support John Kerry because he is an ultra-liberal senator who believes in stealing money from those people who work hard to produce jobs and economic prosperity and giving it to lazy welfare mothers and radical groups opposed to the Second Amendment. Bush gets his money from sources other than NARAL because he doesn't support "a woman's right to choose," not the other way around.

If Congressman Jefferson Smith of Virginia has received a high score from Club for Growth for supporting pro-growth, pro-business positions, he's going to receive pro-growth, pro-business dollars. When Smith retires, there is a reason that one of his young staffers is often the chosen candidate to replace him. An unknown politician, with no track record of voting, or supporting the voting record of a former office holder faces an uphill battle. More than anything else, the need to have financial support of like-thinking individuals and groups is what makes it most difficult for first time candidates to launch a successful run for office. Many current members of Congress, for example, are former staffers of other Congressmen. If you want the money, you need to have a position that draws the money.

These "special interest" groups are nothing more than groups of individuals who have decided to use the power of numbers to attempt to sway government. Like the evil corporations, PACs and other "special interest" groups are not entities unto themselves. They exist because people have gathered together, for religious, political or economic reasons to form them. There is nothing purer, or purely American, than these often maligned confederations.

The First Amendment grants "…the right of the people to peacefully assemble…" If the American people choose to use that right to join any group that promotes any political position, that is their right. If they wish to use the power of their combined wallets to support the candidate of their choice, more power to them. Politicians on both sides of the aisle should stop maligning these groups as somehow evil and wrong. They are the backbone of American politics, and contrary to popular belief, their money follows the politicians, not the other way around.

Keith D. Cummings is the author of Opening Bell, a political / financial thriller. His website is http://www.keith-cummings.com.

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