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Haupt: Justice and the political machine

By   /   May 22, 2017  /   News  /   No Comments

 “Now and then an innocent man is sent to the legislature.”

– Kin Hubbard, political humorist

For those who are not familiar with Justitia, the symbol of law, she is the badge and emblem that mirrors the values and morals of free men in a nation of lawmakers. She stands for a society where men and women of honor interact with citizens to legislate and rule in the best interests of a written constitution or charter. Justitia symbolizes the allegorical personification of moral judicial systems and accountability for all lawmakers. She sits atop our judicial houses as an emblematic sign that Lady Justice will protect us from abusive laws. She stands as a guardian of the rights and liberties of free men with laws written by free men. She is beautiful but stoically peers out with an impassive face.

“Lady Justice’s beauty is often overlooked until one’s rights have been violated.”

– Nora Seals

As each legislative session comes to an end in our state houses and federal chambers, we always hear about nonsensical accomplishments and excuses why questionably constitutional laws were passed. There are endless lamentations from our representatives about how special interest groups who are anonymously financed influenced legislation through the committees. Yet the bills the citizens desired ended up in the legislative graveyard. That’s when we play the “blame game” like a broken record in a “Happy Days” juke box that the Fonz kicked too many times. “Money; it’s about money”! They whimper we must get high rollers out of politics to fix corruption that’s impeding the legislative process in our local, state, and federal houses.

“The notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be.”

– Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The U.S. Supreme Court on January 21, 2010, ruled that the government could not restrict political expenditures by nonprofit or for-profit corporations, as well as labor unions from making political beneficence. In the case, a non-profit organization called Citizens United wanted to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton shortly before the 2008 Democratic primary election. The Left claimed foul since this dubiously violated a federal law prohibiting the airing of certain communications near an election. The court found the provisions of that law in conflict with the U.S. Constitution. Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion claimed the First Amendment guaranteed free speech to everyone “including” Citizens United.

“If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”

– Justice Kennedy

The Citizens United decision has been an attack weapon for progressives since. Yet the far Left agrees with SCOTUS protecting anti-American demonstrations, transgender restrooms, and flag burning. Who’s fooling who? We just elected a president who received the least corporate money in decades! Yet many in his party and on the left of center are obsessed with “money and politics.” It is the basis for all class warfare today. Yes, no doubt money influences elections, whose winners willingly endorse legislation which favors these groups, but that is not the most salient problem with American government today. These “Fix-Quick-Government” advocates preach taking money out of politics will solve the problem, does not get to the preverbal “roots of its malfeasance.” They are burying your heads in the sand with this “quick-fix government chivalry.”

“The influence of special interests in politics is the most destructive element of our political equation today.”

– Alvin Simms

Yes, money is abundant in politics. But if you want to end exploitation and follow the money trail, you’ll discover more than “money;” its politics as usual of the political machine. The term “political machine” dates back to the 20th century, where such organizations have existed in many rural municipalities and states since the 18th century. But today, these elements are common to most political parties and are essential to keeping the political machinery oiled and the party running. The political machine relies heavily on rewards for political power and is the party whip. Political machines always have bosses, or conclaves of select leaders who often demand patronage to remain in their good graces. This historic “behind-the-scenes” control has been vital for special interests to retain their position and influence within the structure of a representative democracy. These machines remain organized long after an election or event. Until we throw a monkey wrench into them and derail their locomotive, special interests will control government not us.

“If we take the special favors out of government, there is nothing else for anyone to trade.”

– Sam Goldstein

Political machines dictate whom to give favorable treatment to like trade associations, corporations, and unions because of party platform and campaign promises. The trade associations and unions represent key sectors of our economy and influence millions of members to support candidates of their choice. In turn, the party machine guarantees them billions in bailouts, government subsidies, tax benefits and personalized legislation. They hold the keys to our state and federal houses. Even if we outlawed all payola every election, the true cause of political corruption would still remain. To retain power and promote their agenda politicians would still trade our liberty for votes to appease the party machine and their special interests.

“Politics is a damn expensive business. I had one hell of a time raising money as a candidate. I had to refinance my house to get elected.”

– Joe Biden

Why don’t we read between the lines during those campaign speeches? Who are they preaching to? We must keep in mind that money can only be used to purchase what’s for sale. Restricting the money flow during elections will have little or no effect on politicians who dance to the tune of the party machine once they’re elected. Simply put, “we the people” are their “special interests”! Yet far too few ever remind them of “those interests” once they take their oath of office. How many times has this Congress told us the first thing they’d do after they were elected would be to shoot that lame horse Obamacare and put it out of its misery? Chopping down the special interest money tree will not change the party machine’s control over the political halls of justice. Until we realize our vote is our most powerful weapon, nothing will change.

“It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”

– Ronald Reagan

The term “political machine” was considered a pejorative since it was associated with 20th Century, corrupt local politicians in rural governments during our darkest ages. Although today we seldom hear the term “party machine,” a voter must have just fallen off a turnip truck to think politicians are acting in our best interests when they legislate with little regard for Lady Justice and the values she protected since the days of ancient Greece and Rome. And like those past societies that fell from her good graces, we too will join them if we do not help Lady Justice protect our Constitution and our legally written laws.

“Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people and not for profit, honor, or private interest.”

– John Adams

Today’s current political state is an ugly mutation of decades of out-of-control power building that evolved right before our eyes. And it will take a principled stance and decades of hard work for us to dismantle the traditions we have inherited from centuries of political machines writing our laws and running America instead of us. It’s our duty to force them to respect Lady Justice or else!

“Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.”

– Ronald Reagan


William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, citizen legislator in California for 40 plus years, and author. He got his start working to approve prop 13.