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Campaign cash threatens social contract

July 1, 2012
The Leader Herald

Mark McKinnon, Republican strategist and leader of the "No Labels" movement, said the "Citizens United" decision is a major setback to cleaning up government.

Here is my take on what that means in plain English. There is a social contract between government and the citizens it governs. The citizens trust that government will be clean and maintain a sense of fairness, be just and yet protect its people, and preserve liberty while maintaining order. In short, provide for the common good.

Right now, government is not clean. Elections are rigged by the influence of extravagant campaign donations and negative ads. Principled candidates, unable to match the funding of the unprincipled, fall by the wayside. Worse yet, bribery is rampant and the U.S. Supreme Court sees no bribery in this, declaring that money in politics is protected by free speech and is quite acceptable, be it on a state or federal level. The danger is this: The people will see this as protection of the rich and will opt out of this empty illusion, a.k.a. the social contract.

Bribery is defined as a specific offense which concerns the practice of offering something, usually money, to gain an illicit advantage. The U.S. Constitution gives bribery as cause for impeachment of government officials. Yet the congressional ethics code does not hold bribery as necessarily illegal.

Corruption is an abuse of a position of trust in order to gain an undue advantage, which one could (I believe) easily define as the result of the practice of bribery.

We need a constitutional amendment to do what the Supreme Court has failed to do, i.e., correctly interpret bribery for what it is - free speech for only the wealthy and the first sign of a government failing to govern. Congress must cleanup this mess and re-establish fairness and justice or else maintaining order will become more difficult.





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