I felt sorry for U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens when I heard he had seven charges against him. If Stevens is guilty, I fault him less than I do the system he had to live with in order to get re-elected, gain seniority, and bring home the bacon to Alaska.
I think that Stevens, if guilty, may have sacrificed his integrity for Alaska.
The problem is that it costs a fortune to run for office, particularly a congressional office. Every six years, a candidate for the Senate must pay about a million or more to media experts, campaign managers, radio, television, and newspaper buys, printers, hotels, banquets, airline companies, etc., in order to run a viable campaign. Where does the money come from? It usually comes from those who have money - corporations, political action committees, wealthy people. They don't contribute for nothing. They donate and invest so the politician will promote their interests if elected. Just like everyday life except more-so, politics is a "You scratch my back, I scratch yours" kind of deal.
For Stevens or any congressman to stay in office all these years, he had to make deals, either verbal or assumed. That's the way business is done. A bank doesn't give you money. It expects you to pay it back with interest.
I'll bet Stevens and U.S. Rep. Don Young were both honest individuals when they started off in politics. They had dreams and they wanted to do something good for Alaska. But I think the game is crooked, and you don't win unless you learn how it works and are willing to play.
America now has, as Greg Palast calls it: "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." The powerful like it just the way it is because they have the money to buy it and reap fortunes from it in tax relief, government contracts, war profiteering, etc.
To make our government truly representative and allow politicians to remain honest, we need to get all private money out of politics and just give an even amount to bona fide candidates out of a national or state fund which everyone contributes to in equal amounts through their taxes. When we all have an equal voice, it is more likely our representatives will represent the majority of Americans, rather than just the fat cats they are currently indebted to.
I have disagreed with Stevens and Young on many issues, but I have a hard time condemning them. It makes me sad to think that they may be, or were, two exceptional men, corrupted by a rotten system.
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