If you’re not a regular listener to This American Life (I’m not), you still need to hear their program from last weekend, Take the Money and Run for Office.
Produced by the people behind the essential Planet Money podcast, this is a rather depressing hour about how US congress critters spend their time raising money to run for office (more time, in many cases, than on their actual jobs) and what it buys for those contributors.
That flow of money traded for influence has long since moved from the exception to the rule.
That’s our system. If a congressman went in front of a town hall meeting and said, for $5,000, I’ll sit down with anyone of you and have breakfast. You can tell me exactly how you’d like me to vote. He’d be booed off the stage.
But that’s the case for pretty much everybody in Congress. They don’t even have to say it.
I think the worst part of the hour, however, was listening to the incredible hypocrisy of John McCain, co-author of the last major piece of legislation to address campaign finance, as he whined about a situation he continues to wallow in.
Anyway, spend the time to listen and then pass it along to friends and family. If you teach US Government or American History, play it for your students and ask for their responses.
Now, I’m not naive enough to believe one public radio program is going to change anything. But it would be nice if more people paid attention to this crap instead of naively believing the old Schoolhouse Rock version of the legislative process is still the way things work.