Democratic Underground

Political Auction
December 13, 2001
by Paul Winkelmann

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When I saw the Attorney General testifying before Congress the other day, I couldn't help but think back to the Presidential Election Campaign and Charlton Heston's boast that if Bush won, the NRA would have an office in the White House. Truer and more prophetic words could not have been spoken.

The NRA has lobbied for the legalization of such goodies as plastic (and therefore undetectable to airport metal detectors) guns, "cop-killer" bullets, and gun purchases that require no background check. Yeah, they're a bunch of real patriots. And now they are behind what has to be one of the most blatantly hypocritical testimonials ever heard before Congress (and as anyone who has ever perused C-SPAN can tell you, that's no minor feat).

Ashcroft offered up his alibi, with a straight face I might add, that the law does not allow the FBI the right to review the federal records created when a buyer applies to purchase a weapon at a gun store, even if that buyer is a foreigner national being detained as a terrorism suspect. Mr. Ashcroft and his NRA puppet masters, believe that this is a clear violation of the Constitution.

This, after his office unceremoniously twisted the law to circumnavigate most of the Bill of Rights (due process, search & seizure, fair trials, and such) so he could investigate, incarcerate, and conceal the whereabouts of these same constitutionally challenged foreigners. But when it comes down to infringing on their little known Right To Anonymously Purchase Firearms, Ashcroft suddenly goes all Miranda on us?

Obviously that office Moses was talking about is open for business and the primary function of that business is to ensure that every upright biped on American soil (including every potential terrorist) is allowed to secretly obtain firearms, without fear that their identity might leak out to - gasp - law enforcement officials.

Who in their right mind can claim that Ashcroft's bizarre and contradictory behavior isn't the direct result of NRA money and influence?

But rather than dwell on Ashcroft's hypocrisy, his gall, or the utter surrealness of it all, I have come to the realization that the NRA way just may be the right way (no pun intended).

Mr. Heston's boys are playing for keeps and so should we. Pharaoh's movie nemesis tosses campaign contributions around like grains of Egyptian sand. And what are we doing? Docilely watching as those with the deepest pockets covertly acquire the elected officials of their choice. We fill out our ballots under the foolish notion that our votes will actually have an affect on their recipient. It's time to dispense with the pretense that anything other than cold hard cash is the deciding factor on each and every issue put before our country's governing bodies. We're in America, after all. The land where lawmakers patriotically worship the founding fathers, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, and any other guy our treasury puts on our currency.

So I say we should go about this like the NRA, ENRON, and Marc Rich. Research all the brands of politicians. Pick out the make, model, color, and other options that you would like on your politician. Then tender the highest bid for your politician. It couldn't be more capitalistic.

There should be no more slithering behind closed doors to present your best offer, a la Mr. Cheney's oil buddies. No need to bypass election campaign financing laws by sneakily relinquishing businesses to your favorite president's favorite son. Ashcroft would no longer need to pretend he isn't Heston's lackey. Why cover up the sliminess? We all feel it, we all smell it, we all wallow in it, so let's get it out in the open.

I'm talking about creating a national auction, accessible to all citizens, or non-citizens with enough Riyals if you'd prefer, by which anyone can legally purchase the politician of their choice. Let's nationally televise this auction. Or go high tech and have it on E-Bay. The medium by which we do it is of little consequence so long as we achieve the desired results. Namely, making the owning of your own politician as legal, fair, and above board as possible.

Under this revolutionary election process, once your newly purchased Congressman is bought and paid for, he will no longer be subject to further bidding. You'll know the final price of your politician when the gavel is struck. There will be no more of that "sticker shock" associated with mid-term fund raising. Once the politician is delivered to his new owner, there's even a slight chance that he just might stand firm on his campaign promises. After all, those promises will be written on his invoice. And every politician comes with a 1 term (2, 4, or 6 years), 15 scandal, bill to law, warranty.

Of course you may end up with a lemon, "Look, Sam got himself a Bush - har, har." Or your legislator might start having navigational problems, "That damn Jeffords of mine just keeps going left when I want him to go right." And, "My Bob Barr has lost that cigar-smoke-filled-backroom-smell." But all in all, you can predict your model's reliability. Between Edmund's Candidate's Price Catalog and Consumer's Reports Annual Congressional Edition, there should be no big surprises when you open up your new Senator or President.

Sure, there will be those crybaby poor folks who just can't fit a luxury politician into their budget. Even a Dan Quayle is out of the question for the less wealthy. For them we can hold a special fire-sale auction on budget politicos. Jesse Jackson, Gary Condit, Pat Buchanan, etc. These guys have no real power or hopes for such, so you should be able to get them at bargain basement prices. A broken down old Strom Thurmond is bound to go for a song and dance. Everyone gets to participate in the Great American Political System.

Can this system work to our benefit? We can't be any worse off than we are now and at least we will know, with 100% certainty, who our politicians are working for. Like we didn't know already.