Paying Our Legislators

Most of the western democracies support their political parties by government subsidies. That prevents what amounts to bribery by private citizens and groups. We in the U.S., on the other hand, depend on contributions from citizens and organized groups such as corporations to finance our political parties. That means that whoever pays the most money gets the most political power.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a good example. It contributed roughly $149,000 to Senate recipients in the 2020 cycle, with nearly all the funds going to Republicans. Gun Owners of America (GOA), a rival gun-rights group, allocated $45,100 to Senate recipients in the 2020 cycle, with 100 percent of proceeds going to Republican figures.

The end result is, as long as Republicans retain power in the Congress, that gun control legislation is at best feeble, at worst non-existent. The only way to reduce gun violence is to reduce the number of guns in the hands of Americans. But as long at the NRA and GOA continue to buy the congressional votes, gun control will go nowhere.

That’s but one example of the vote buying that is routine in the U.S. Until we change the way we finance our politics, those with money will continue to buy legislation.

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