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Power Of Money
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A Sad State When Only Billionaires May Lead

By James Donahue

Disclosures during this year's presidential campaign have made it clear to all Americans that the road to the nation's top job is lined with cash . . . and lots of it.

We doubt if the people who framed our system of government expected the presidential office to become an exclusive club assessable by only the rich. But that is exactly what it has turned out to be. Either the candidate is personally wealthy, or has very wealthy connections to people willing to invest heavily for personal political advantage.

With the advent of contemporary electronic media that allows us all to have close examination of every candidate, from the pimple on his or her nose to any scandal linked to the past, we have a tendency to select only the people best groomed for public appeal. And in today's fast-paced world, it takes a lot of money to generate that kind of allure.

Not only do these candidates have to win primary votes in key electoral states, they must be constantly on their guard against the slightest careless comment that might offend a minority group or give the impression the speaker is taking a strong position on contemporary hot-button issues. Casual slips of the tongue can be political disaster.

Contenders must hire professional writers, lawyers and sociologists to prepare their speeches; hair and body stylists to give them that "Hollywood look," and high-priced advertising people to develop campaign promotions designed to make them look better than the other guys.

The results have been tragic. It is no longer the "best man (or woman)" that wins the election, but rather the person for whom the most money was spent. This isn't just affecting the highest office, but it is proving true in senatorial, congressional, gubernatorial and even mayoral contests.

This, in turn, puts our leadership at high risk of being "sold out" to whatever corporation or cash contributors that donated the most money for their campaign.

One need only look at the performance President George W. Bush to clearly see the results of this kind of "ownership" by the big business interests that put him in office.

Mr. Bush is presently regarded as an ignorant man because of his unflinching stand on maintaining an unpopular war in Iraq and resisting controls on greenhouse gas emissions. We do not believe this is because he doesn't know the changing attitudes among the majority of the people in America. As a lame-duck president, we think his position is simply an act of faithfulness to the big corporate powers that put him in office.

Big business in America makes a lot of money on war, and it does not want to spend that money cleaning emissions pouring from antiquated old factories. There also is a belief that the nation that controls the world supply of oil will control the world. And there is a lot of oil under the sands of both Iraq and Iran.

While Mr. Bush may not be the brightest button that ever landed in the Oval Office, he is smart enough to know who has been buttering his toast, and he is doing exactly what he was paid to do from the day he stepped into Texas politics.

If Americans don't find a way to correct this problem, and do it fast, we can expect more people just like President Bush to succeed him. And there will be little that we can do about any of it.