Money Buys Political Power 3
The few members of congress opposed to these blatant abuses and undue influence that corporations put on their colleagues are under the same influences. Although Senator Feingold’s statements against the presidents and the house’s Economic Stimulus Plan should be commended, it must be noted that none of the corporations that stood to gain donated to his campaign. His largest contributions came from lawyers and law firms, the retired, and the education sector (University of Wisconsin, for example). So long as campaign financing plays a major role in shaping legislation, one must wonder whether these representatives ever act according to their own personal convictions, or in the best interest of the population that they represent.
When Schakowsky, Olver, and Gilchrest stood out against the president’s energy plan, claiming that the outrageous gasoline prices across the Midwest were the result of price gouging by the oil industry, it seemed as though they were simply being sensible. However, after looking at their main contributors, we must wonder if they were working for their constituents or their donors. Olver received the vast majority of his money from various unions, such as the United Auto Workers, the Teamsters Union, the Intl. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the United Transportation Union. Combined, Olver had a large portion of his campaign financed by industrial and transportation unions. The steel workers of America, on congressional record S11284, stated their opposition to Bush’s plan to open up the Arctic wildlife refuge for drilling. Olver was, in fact, saying exactly what his donors wanted him to say.
Ms. Schakowsky had similar donors, with the United Auto Workers at the top of her list. In addition, she received almost $17,000 from liberal one-issue and non-profits groups, which included environmental and human rights organizations. Once again, her stance is based those who funded her election as much as those who voted for her.
Mr. Gilchrest received most of his money from the retired community and another sizable percentage from Baltimore Gas & Electric Company. Again, these are groups that would be effected negatively by the president’s energy plan. Despite the environmentally conscious position taken by these politicians, the data shows that they may have been more concerned about who paid for their campaigns, and less concerned about the actual issues at hand.
When considering almost any issue, the solution advocated by either congress or the president will not necessarily be in the best interest of the people who these elected officials are supposed to serve. Essentially, everybody will find a solution that is in the best interest of their financial supporters. For example, those politicians who were funded by the airlines, energy companies, and environmental groups would say that the key to dropping greenhouse gas emissions would be doing the following: forcing car makers to be more efficient, making SUV's conform to the same emissions standards as cars, or forcing designers to employ new technologies such as the emission recycling engines in the large truck engines made by Caterpillar and Cummins.
Those who received money from the automakers would blame the problem on industrial emissions, or on the transportation sector. Who will come out ahead in the congressional struggles? I would like to believe that those who had the best ideas, the most well-thought-out proposals, would come out ahead. I would like to say that the best leaders, that those who took a stand based on their beliefs - rather than based on the desires of those who finance their campaigns - would emerge on top.