Dirty Politics and the Golden Rule

By Michael Monasky | February 9, 2014 It's considered common sense that elected state representatives find it necessary to raise fun...

By Michael Monasky | February 9, 2014

It's considered common sense that elected state representatives find it necessary to raise funds to manage election campaigns. A short course in California politics must include a particular, former member of the assembly, Jesse Unruh, it's speaker in the 1960s, and, later, the state's elected treasurer. It was Unruh who said that money is the mother's milk of politics. 
"Big Daddy" with Ron and Nancy.

Also attributable to “Big Daddy” Unruh is this quote: “If you can't eat their food, drink their booze, screw their women and then vote against them, you have no business being up here.” Journalist Lou Cannon considered Unruh such a formidable power-broker that he included him in an early book with Ronald Reagan: Ronnie and Jesse.

So, why is money so important in our political system?

The obvious answer is that it just is, always has been, and always will be important in a capitalist society. As much as this country's political grounding is upon its reputation of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism, money makes our world go 'round. The people who run for public office and seek our votes tend to follow the same rules that govern all our social and psychological habits. Political economy is not far removed from everyday reality, whether imposed by a harsh environment or fantasized on television. The crushing poverty of class or the liberating luck of winning the lottery are real but uncontrolled aspects of our political experience.
Whether it is the child of a single parent, the lonely patient dying in a nursing home, the imprisoned felon, the worn-out worker, the under- and unemployed, the struggling student, the atomized family, the dispossessed, the homeless, or any other suffering human being, it is our elected representatives who should most represent them. Instead, the tables are turned. In fact, the tables are set by those who least require legislative help, the uber-rich, the powerful, the well-scrubbed millionaires and billionaires who put out meat and cheese trays to match just the right varietal wine, cigar, or other extravagance for the enjoyment of these representatives.

We all enjoy a good meal with an appropriately appointed beverage. But this seems to be the higher calling of our representatives in Sacramento. According to the Sacramento Bee, this list includes our current governor, the president pro tempore of the Senate, and many other assembly and senate leaders. Lobbying, campaigning, fund-raising, and wooing the powerful and wealthy are priorities greater than those serving the people who most need our collective assistance.
Getting the money out of politics and our elective process is something that is so obviously an ethical, moral and social dilemma that has been forgotten by those who participate in our representative government. This is happening under the shadow of the Capitol dome. It also happens at city hall. It is embodied in the rule of gold, where he who has the most gold, rules.

This nation has abandoned the Golden Rule: have others do to you what you would do to others. The statement is reversed but still true. It would behoove any holder of political office to reconsider what it is that others do to us, even in their absence.

When was the last time the governor, our legislative leaders, or others in political office have spent real time in a nursing home? A Head Start classroom with parents, staff, and kids? A state rehabilitation health facility? A prison facility visiting and interacting with inmates? A homeless shelter? A state employment office? A community college? A welfare office? This is where the legislative rubber meets the public road. Instead, our leaders are wining and dining and spending time with folks who have no interest in what most of us experience, know, or care about.

It's not the company that they should keep.

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Anonymous said...

Well Said. Exactly describes the situation in Sacramento, Elk Grove and just about every other government body. Our fore fathers would be incensed at how their "government of the people" turned out. Thanks Michael for a timely and relevant piece of writing.

Coffee Bean said...

Thanks Michael for your contribution. The byproduct of such a system is citizen apathy--first, just trying to get people to register to vote, then getting them to vote! Political scientists have two differing explanations for this phenomenon. Some believe that apathy indicates that the people are satisfied and see no need to become active voters. Conversely, there are those who believe that the people are so dissatisfied and feeling shut out, that they have given up and move on with those things in their lives that they do have control over. Those in power who thrive on apathy could care less which explanation is truer--they just smile and take another sip of the Power Kool-aid. They won't tell you to your face, but they believe if you don't like it, then gas up the U-Haul and vote with your feet. Here in Elk Grove, one councilman actually had the chutzpah to publicly say "if you don't like the job we're doing, then vote us out". Yeah right.....

Lynn said...


Thank you. At the local level this became so transparent with the recently changed sign ordinance(stakeholders met and are in agreement; mind you No residents in that particular meeting)and Mr. Moore's project. Mr. Moore did not play the money game(campaign contributions, donations to non-profits for council members)any different from other developers. He was just to "transparent" about the real process of how the city operates. If anyone was in doubt this simply removed all doubt. When our councilmembers run for reelection do they mention the number of rezones, incentives, and reducing the size of parks, giving 700,000 for a sunsplash aquatic park in a residential area. Do they mention the monies spent on the SOIA? Do they mention how 3.3 million was spent for 1500 jobs....and how many more may of come to our city since that investment? No they mention that they love elk grove, moved here to raise their family...
So do they care about the people of Elk Grove? Do they care about the gentleman who asked them "would you want a gas station strip mall behind your home?" Maybe if they answered that question honestly this site could be for its intended designation high density housing. It is all about Greed.....

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