When a new member of Congress comes forward in a political climate like this, a climate where the question of the day is ‘will Trump actually drain the swamp,’ and says things are even worse than you think- it’s cause for concern.
Okay, we’re not talking about a deeply suspicious pizza shop in downtown DC that’s run by a man who is somehow the 5th most influential person in the nation’s capital. Although, that does bear investigation. We’re not talking about the grotesquely morbid paintings of children in Tony Podesta’s home, or the long list of mysterious deaths surrounding the Clintons.
We’re talking about something everybody knows — the fact that committee chairs are for sale in Congress. The fact is that most politicians spend more time raising money than they do working for the people who elected them. This is why Congress is so wildly unpopular, with a 15% approval rating. This is what everybody knows about DC politics. We know that a moneyed vote is worth more than a vote attached to a modest income. But…suppose we told you that it’s even worse than that.
Representative Ken Buck, who was elected to Congress in 2014, is saying just that. He has authored a book that exposes the true depth of the fiscal corruption in our nation’s capital. Entitled, Drain the Swamp: How Washington is Worse Than You Think, Bucks new book says, “[lawmakers are mostly] fat and happy alligators who feel pretty darn comfortable in the swamp.”
He goes on to describe the game of high stakes politics as “…a pay-to-play system in which committee assignments and leadership slots are tied to a lawmakers’ fundraising skills rather than their policy expertise.”
But the one thing in particular that has got so many people in Washington crying foul is this passage; “Here’s how it works for Republicans. If you want to serve on a committee, you have to raise money for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). The amount varies depending on the committee and role. For example, to serve on a B or C level committee, a GOP House freshman member must raise $220,000 every two years … Veteran members on A committees must raise more than twice that amount – $450,000… If you become the chair of a B committee – congratulations – you’re now expected to raise $875,000 a year for the NRCC. Chairing an A committee means you must raise $1.2 million.”
He explains that in order to fulfill the expectation to raise money, Congresspeople have to spend no less than four hours each day calling possible donors to raise money. And what are they offering these donors in exchange for their solicited contributions? Influence over policy.
To be plain, what we’re talking about is a system where our lawmakers are expected to call wealthy interests and offer to write laws that will favor them in exchange for cash.
Most people expect that Congresspeople take money from lobbyists who come to them asking for political favors. What we do not expect is that our lawmakers are offering to write laws to favor possible donors in advance of the contribution. In other words, our elected leaders are actively selling our country away to major interests both internationally and here at home.
Buck told USA Today, “I have pledged not to participate in that system and I am not going to make those calls. If we don’t stand up to the corruption, it will continue to get worse and worse. That’s why we need to send fighters to D.C., and I am not going there to play nice. I’m going there to turn the tables over and turn the corrupt system upside down. Party leadership is not going to like that at all.”
But getting anything done in Washington without playing ball can be an uphill battle. Members of Congress who don’t play along can lose access to critical facilities where deals are made and be denied the use of conveniently located banks of telephones. Worse than that, lawmakers who don’t go along to get along are blacklisted among K Street lobbyists. Once a Congressman is tarred and feathered in this way, anyone who works with them gets the same treatment.
What is needed is leaders who have their own resources and who do not desire the easy money Washington offers.
Buck says, “If they try to do those things to me, I still will not back down. After all, I am not going there to be a career politician.”
~ Patriotic Freedom Fighter