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Votes for Sale

PBS presents this film, Votes for Sale, as a public service and it is created by the National Organization for Women. It is necessary to look at any piece of propaganda from all angles to determine if anyone has anything to gain by use of bias. The title gives me reason to suspect that NOW has decided in advance that the entire system is corrupt and the vote of our duly elected representatives go to the highest bidder. The fact that the film may be biased, however, does not necessarily make it any less true.

In the mid 19th century Mark Twain remarked that congress was America’s only native criminal class, so the idea of corruption in government is hardly specific to the 21st century. The main problem seems to be that we have grown so accustomed to it that we no longer are subject to righteous indignation. The politicians look at us as they stand before us, up to their elbows in the cookie jar, and say, ‘So what? Everyone does it, it’s how government works.

’ We have become a nation of sheep and we bleat and blindly follow along, seemingly powerless to do anything. Arizona’s attempt to stop the corruption is remarkable in several ways. It is amazing that this hasn’t been the norm since the days of Washington and Jefferson, but we have slowly ceded our control over congress and permitted lawyers to write our laws and let them be self-governing. We permit them to decide what their salaries should be and we have allowed them self-discipline. In any other place or time this would be the punch line of a bad joke.

The opponents of the movement are, by and large, establishment politicians and power brokers. Their attitude is that free speech is expensive, and the man with more money is allowed more speech. This is not only asinine, it smacks of petitio principii in that we are asked to believe that such an absurdity is true. It is mildly shocking but not surprising that so many of the citizens of Arizona are unaware of the new movement, and so frequently have no idea what the person at their door wants, and why they should give him five dollars.

The average American tends to be blissfully unaware of much of the inner workings of his government and the election process. It strikes me that NOW or some other organizations would mount an all-out blitz to see that the average voter of Arizona understands what is being asked of them and what is at stake. It is telling that some of the opponents of the movement are unaware of its workings and are indignant that the public is being asked to fund a campaign.

At the risk of putting this reflection into the colloquial, I am sorely tempted to say, ‘Duh’. Such a remark is just wrong on so many levels that it is difficult to know how to begin to refute it. There may be better alternatives for election reform but until one comes along, I am prone to the think that I would cast my lot with this version for now, and then watch carefully to see if any of my oxen are gored along the way.


NOW 2007 Votes for Sale Retrieved 11-15-07 from: http://www. pbs. org/now/shows/242/index. html

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