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Sunday, February 22, 2004

Special Interests

Bush is accusing Kerry of accepting "special interest money" (link via: PLB) and hence being somehow "unprincipled."

This is one of those things in politics which I've never understood. The appeal of "principled" politicians is somehow completely lost on me. If I were electing someone to office, I would want a person who has absolutely no predilection towards any dogmatism or singular ethic whatsoever. I want her to get to Washington and do exactly what I tell her to do, or in situations where polling data is unavailable, I want someone who will consider a bill or action on its merits in terms of serving the public good - not becuase of some crazy stance they happen to have, or universal heuristic they use. If there's a bill which sends $100 billion in aid to subsaharan Africa, but has a gag rule preventing it from being used in abortion clinics, I want my representative to vote for it - despite the fact that, if I were electing someone, I would want a pro-choice candidate. When "principles" get in the way, the less optimal solution starts being the one which comes out, and tortured convolutions of perfectly sensible bills end up being the result.

Beyond that, "special interests"? Any group which gets money together and contributes it to a candidate is likely a "special interest." Nobody gives money generally, and across the board, to any candidate who happens to want it. Even "private donors" are generally contributing to the candidate who will further some specific agenda they hold. You think that when Henry Ford IV cuts his check, it's because he just wants to help the party who coincidentally supports subsidizing the manufacturing sector of the economy and opposes lowering tarriffs on foreign machinery, like cars?

But that's the flip side. Saying that special interests influence a candidate's opinions and voting is a little like saying that the cupcake you buy tasted how you wanted it to becuase you payed for it. It's a silly causal argument about how the money causes candidates to change their mind on fundimental issues. Why would you contribute to someone in order to alter their fundimental beliefs, when you could just support a candidate who already believes what you do? This sort of name calling doesn't make sense. Yet I suppose that's what politics is, now. Throwing around words which are utterly vapid, but sound generally good - "compassionate conservative" and so on.

For that matter, why would you want to elect someone who's not a "Washington insider"? Would you take stock advice from someone who was a "Wall Street outsider"? Would you buy a car from an Australian aborigine? Would you trust your medical health to someone who was just using good ol' folk sense, though didn't really "have experience with neurosurgery"? Please. Politics is the only place where we want people to appear honest without being so, and appear compassionate while privately fueling our own personal interests without having any actual regard to the rest of the known world.

cranked out at 1:00 PM | |

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