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"It's not who votes that counts. It's who counts the votes."
-- Joseph Stalin

"If there were one thing we could change about this country by the wave of a wand, it would be to end the legalized bribery that has rotted the democratic political system. ...Never met an American yet who is not perfectly yet aware that the political system is stacked in favor of those with money. You can't amaze an American with that news -- they know politicians get bought. 'Our' elected officials answer to 'them,' the ones who give big campaign contributions, not to 'us,' the people. Bullsh*t us no bullsh*t about how money 'only buys access,' it doesn't buy votes. It buys votes. Time after time after time after time. This is open corruption. It reeks, it is rot, it is rampant, and it is killing this country.

"There is a cure. It's called public campaign financing. Right away the conservatives fire back, 'That's socialism for politicians!' (thus cleverly marrying two things Americans hate, socialism and politicians). We've actually had public campaign financing in America for over thirty years, and it worked pretty well. The major reform after the 1972 Watergate scandal -- when millions of dollars in cash went sloshing around the country in briefcases to get dumped into Richard Nixon's CREEPy Committee to Reelect the President campaign -- was a form of public campaign financing. Every year, when you get to the bottom of your IRS 1040, there are two little boxes at the end before you sign the thing. One says, 'Check here if you want to kick in a couple of your tax dollars to keep the presidential campaigns honest,' and the other one says, 'Check here if you don't give a sh*t.' Actually, the boxes don't say that, but they should. And it worked, for at least three cycles, 1974 to 1986, until the Supreme Court gummed it up."

In the Court's 1988 decision over the Buckley v. Valeo case, it decided that money was the same thing as free speech. Campaign contributors took advantage of the decision to flood the political landscape with money to influence candidates. In 2000 George W. Bush turned down public funds because he was able to raise such vast sums of private monies to run his Presidential campaign; in 2004, both Bush and John Kerry turned down public funding for the same reason. The McCain-Feingold campaign reform legislation is the first small step towards once again reforming the campaign finance situation, but since the legislation is full of loopholes, and since Bush has appointed a fanatical anti-reformer to the board that is supposed to implement the bill's reforms, it isn't doing enough. -- Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose

"Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it." -- Mark Twain