Money in Politics

     I did something I almost never do last week: I didn’t vote in an election.
     This was not a conscious act. I wasn’t protesting the decline in candidate quality or the general repulsiveness of partisan politics.
     I just forgot.
     I forgot even though for what seemed like centuries my house had been bombarded with flyers, and I’d stopped answering the phone to avoid campaign harangues.
     I live in Long Beach, California and we had not only a state primary vote but also a bunch of apparently expensive and bitter local contests. We even had a gay Latino guy versus a conservative black guy running for mayor.
     How could I forget that?
     Yet I simply went about my work as normal on election day and didn’t even think about voting until the polls had closed.
     It got me to thinking about why this happened.
     The obvious explanation is senility. The brain is finally imploding.
     That may be true. In fact, that may have happened quite a while ago, but for the sake of discussion, I’m going to rule it out. After all, I’m consciously trying to figure this out and I’m writing coherent sentences.
     Or am I?
     OK, this column could well be an illusion and I’m strapped to a wheelchair in a convalescent center but, damn it, I’m ruling that out!
     I think, therefore, I’m not crazy. At least I don’t think I am, and I’m sticking to that position.
     (I’m pausing now to breathe heavily.)
     Insanity and delusion aside, there’s a more plausible explanation: enormous amounts of money in politics.
     I think what happened was that I was so inundated – with paper and cardboard in the mail that I didn’t want to look at, and people at the door demanding that I leave the bathroom to speak to them, and phone calls that make me want to disconnect from the universe – that I’d mentally tuned myself out from anything election-related.
     Is every candidate a thief, who never shows up for work except to vote for stuff he’s paid to like? Should I ignore all this corruption?
     Mail went automatically to the recycle bin.
     Ringing phones were ignored.
     Email was immediately erased (especially the inexplicable ones from candidates in Florida).
     I’d walled it off to save my sanity, assuming I have any.
     My opinion of Citizens United has changed.
     It may be that the more money there is in politics, the less influential it is.
     More and more dollars are speaking to the electorate and fewer and fewer people vote. (I don’t have statistics to back this up, but it must be true.)
     It’s a good thing that rich people and corporations are spending billions on elections (that must be true). They’re helping us forget elections!
     This explains why the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson don’t own the government. The more they speak to us with money, the less we notice them.
     And if they keep spending (i.e. talking) this way, the income inequality gap will close.
     Citizens United may be the most progressive ruling in U. S. history.
     I do, however, have a suggestion for rich, talkative people: If you want to speak to me with your dollars, do it directly.
     Send it to my bank account.
     It’s not vote-buying, it’s free speech.

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