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Politicians are Slaves to their Ambitions

April 13, 2012

Listen to (or read) the This American Life episode on money in politics, and weep for American democracy.

What stands out to me is how far seemingly powerful politicians will demean themselves in their fund-raising efforts. Yes, they bully and blackmail (and so brazenly!), but they also spend an astonishing amount of time courting lobbyists, begging from strangers, and even exploiting their own friendships. Here’s ex-congressman Walt Minnick:

You essentially wear out your friends and you wear out the people who are your natural supporters, because if someone writes you one check or comes to a fundraiser, they get on a list. And three or four months later you call them back again. And the best thing about being an ex-congressman is my friends now return my phone calls.

 I’m usually inclined to think that Rousseau was too cynical about the state of civilized man (I’m a naive and optimistic person), but I can’t help but admit that he was onto something in saying that ambition and enslavement are connected:
Individuals only allow themselves to be oppressed so far as they are hurried on by blind ambition, and, looking rather below than above them, come to love authority more than independence, and submit to slavery, that they may in turn enslave others.
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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 14, 2012 8:27 am

    It’s the same with non-political charities; donate once, non-anonymously, and your name gets on a list, and you will get hit up, over and over and over. I only give to church offerings, any more, other than occasional, one-off, anonymous donations. Other charities can go jump in a lake, however worthy; I don’t like being bothered over and over.

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