“Poitics and Poker,” perhaps the best known song from the very New York musical “Fiorello,” the show based on one of the city’s best loved and remembered mayors, Fiorello La Guardia.  I had the pleasure of singing in the show, on stage in New York but was not part of the group that sang that song. 

The song referred to how politics resembled poker with money and bluffing main factors in the game.  As we watch millions, nay billions of dollars being spread around in this election we hear a chorus of complaints about how money is corrupting the polical process.  

But lets look at the facts.  The USA has a population of 312 million making it kind of hard for presidential candidates to meet all of them via stump speeches.  The 435 members of our House of Representatives have an average constituency of about 700,000.  Senators have from 600,000 to near 40 million, ditto governors.  In fact there is no way any candidate for office above county commissioner in a small county can actually personally meet many of the electorate.  He or she must meet the public via the media and media ain’t cheap. 

We tried to control this by establishing a Federally funded pool of money for presidential candidates.  However, then candidate Obama turned down using these funds since he said he would not comply with the rules to have access to these funds.  He felt confident he would raise more funds by avoiding the rules.  Adios the presidential campaign fund, hello raising funds however you can.  

To state it boldly, in political campaigns you buy access to the public and the more access you have, the better for your campaign. 

Another cry from those upset about “Politics and Poker” is against organizations from corporations to unions to social movements to any type of citizen organization being able to pump money into politics ad infinitum.  This crowd focuses on the Supreme Court’s decision that corporations have the same rights as people in terms of using their money to influence politics. 

But wait, the battle cry of our revolution was against, “taxation without representation,” essentially claiming that if you pay taxes you should have representation of your choice, which is achieved by elections.  Don’t corporations pay taxes?  In fact it is well established in law that corporations have a fiscal and legal identity and are treated the same as people before the law.  In other words, if they have no ability to influence elections they are subject to “taxation without representation.”

So lets lay off the complaints about money in politics.  It is a reality of the process.  And ultimately if one says money buys public office, one is saying that his/her vote is for sale.  Is your vote for sale?