Politics in America, I'd venture a guess, is nothing at all the way that our founding fathers envisioned it. In the early days of politics, no party had a stranglehold on the the branches of government. Washington had no party affiliation. John Adams was a member of the Federalist party. William Harrison was one of several Whig presidents. But starting with Franklin Pierce in 1853, every president since has been a member of either the republican or democratic party. Of the elected members of both houses of Congress, there is one independent member in each body. [Note: That's in the 108th Congress.] How many Americans realize that there are more than 56 registered and official political parties in the US. Of those 56, 12 (well, 13 with the Republican Party) have a decidedly Christian-based ideology. Twelve of the thirteen state their goal is to return to our "Christian roots." (Click here to read an article that disputes the claim of Christian roots in this country.)
Politics has always been dominated by the wealthy. But in the early days of this nation, that was more out of necessity than anything else. The average man didn't graduate from school, had limited knowledge of things outside his own village/town/city and often had to spend most of his days working hard to support himself and his family. He had no time for politics. Only the wealthy had what I believe is the most important luxury on the face of the earth: leisure time. Without leisure time, man would have never made any of the great discoveries he has made about the universe and the world around him. He'd have never delved into the depths of philosophy or medicine or psychology or music. Until the Industrial Revolution, very few outside the wealthy had any real leisure time. Therefore, very few outside the wealthy got involved in politics at anything higher than the local level.
Politics is still dominated by the wealthy in this day and age, but the difference is that one really has no chance of getting into politics without money anymore. Bill Frist, for example, spent about $4 million of his own personal money to win his seat in the Senate. Frist was methodical in his strategy to win, first visiting with the likes of Howard Baker (former Senate leader) and Lamar Alexander (former governor of Tennessee and current Senator who thought Frist had virtually no chance of being elected) and hiring some of the best political strategists. [Source] But all of that takes money. If the likes of the average American called up someone like Howard Baker and asked to speak to him on how best to go about winning a seat in the US Senate on our first attempt at elected office against a popular three term incumbent, we would be told that Mr. Baker had a full schedule and would be unable to meet with us. Frist got an audience because of his family's money.
Today, political campaigns get big money from special interest groups (PACs) that are seeking to influence the legislation coming out of Congress in order to increase their profits. And influence them they do, although they're not supposed to. Unfortunately, the more money and/or power you already have, the more money PACs will donate to you, which in turn gives you even more money and power which in turn....And the cycle of abuse of the American voting system goes on. In "The Solution" section, I'll outline some changes I feel would be helpful to ending the influence of money on elections, but right now, I want to give you the opportunity to read about these pocketed politicians of the radical religious right.
UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2010): Many of the links in the following pages are from campaign sites. Unfortunately, for both winners and losers, the campaigns are over with and those sites have often been taken down. I have left the links up since there are archive sites where you may find copies of the site if you're interested in checking out the links that no longer work.
Second Update (Jan. 22, 2010): I just noticed looking through my bookmarks for this site that every single elected politician I profiled is no longer in office! Just an observation...
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