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From the Left Hand Corner: Money and politics

Most might think that this is an unlikely time to be talking, writing or even thinking about the influence of money on our political decision-making.

No major elections are being contested right now, other than a couple legislative special elections, and they will be decided soon. All of the elections that concern most of us were decided last November. It is too early for many to be interested, even if they live in the communities that have municipal elections culminating this November.

Money in politics probably shouldn’t be a matter of any great concern now. But it is! The pervasive aspect of too much money control of our politics in America affects us every day, year in, year out.

Our congressman, Rick Nolan, is already in the forefront, talking about changes needed in Washington. He understandably laments the emphasis on bipartisanship, so necessary for an effective Congress, that existed when he was in Congress before.

Nolan is also critical of the very short amount of time that Congress is actually in session each year, week and day; he notes the low attendance and low level of actual participation during the abbreviated sessions that do occur.

Too much of that reduction in actual floor and committee time in actively legislating is directly due to the ever increasing role of money in politics.

People in Congress, particularly representatives with too short two-year terms, are forced to be raising money for their next campaign before they finish celebrating their election success. The incessant need to amass large sums of money, just to remain competitive and have any hope of staying in office, sucks up excessive amounts of the officeholders’ valuable time and talent.

That obviously lessens the amount of time and degree of energy that the elected official has to devote to the very purpose for which he/she was elected.

There has always been money raising and campaign spending in our election politics, but never at the present level, which has spiraled upward and out of control after Citizens United.

Too many election results follow the money. The inescapable conclusion is that the side that spends the most, usually and too often, wins.

For a lot of good reasons, our newly re-elected congressman is a welcome exception. Even though he now gains the advantage of incumbency and increased money raising capability, Congressman Nolan is still advocating that we need to take the excessive money factor out of politics.

It would be a better country if we could severely limit the amount of monetary influence that any one person or group can have on election outcomes. It can be done. Other countries have done so.