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Rant Control

Claudia Wright's cash

Readers respond to campaign contributions.

By Jesse Fruhwirth
Posted // May 31,2010 -

Most readers responded with votes of confidence in Claudia Wright—who wants to oust fellow Democrat Jim Matheson from his seat in Congress—after reports that the unconventional candidate made a very conventional decision to accept money from political action committees, at least those whose missions she endorses [see “Tempting Claudia Wright,” May 27,].

“It is refreshing to hear Claudia address the real issue of why so many Americans are not more actively involved in politics: most think it's too expensive and they don't have a shot of winning,” wrote Dorothy A Engelman.

Karen took an ironic swipe at Matheson.

“Actually, Jim Matheson is also accepting money only from PACs whose position he already shares: big health 'care,' pharmaceutical and oil companies.”

Not everyone is so trusting, however. In response to a blog post on the same subject [see “PACs: Just Say No,” May 26,] one of our most distinctive commenters is dubious that Wright can change the system.

“Folks have placed [Wright] upon too high a pedestal and she's not even close to being the first newbie politician to make the promises she has,” Hayduke wrote. “She'll fail you because the system she'll need to operate in is a failure.”

Point well taken, Hayduke, but have you got any solutions? Let's hear them.

Jesse Fruhwirth:

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Posted // June 3,2010 at 12:43

It is undeniably true that the American political system is broken in profound ways. Inside such a system, it's crucial to think about how "failure" or "success" is defined. I think success means continuing to expose and challenge the flawed system while working incrementally toward desired outcomes. I can't think of anyone more qualified for those tasks than Claudia Wright. If teaching high schoolers and working in the public school system for 31 years doesn't give you patience and the "long view," I don't know what will. Furthermore, Claudia's accolades as a teacher of government stem precisely from her teaching her students to think thoroughly about the implications of their ideas and placing them in a historical context.

We here in Utah have three choices. Vote the status quo and give our endorsement to the broken system; fold our arms cynically, do nothing, and thereby endorse the broken system; or elect Claudia Wright.


Posted // June 3,2010 at 13:21 - But if we're voting for an individual that's already doing the things every other politician is doing, like taking cash from influential corporate donors, aren't we again perpetuating the status quo? Give me a politician not beholden to any outside interests (PAC's) and I'll be impressed. I'll vote for Claudia if given the opportunity and will give her a fair chance.


Posted // June 2,2010 at 15:07

No, Jesse, I haven't got any viable solutions to correct the system. I'm not so sure that's possible anymore.

We're I to try, though, and if I had the power, I'd start by eradicating lobbyists from the political process. I mean gone, no more, not a one, adios. They can write a letter to their rep with their requests like the rest of us if they'd like. Remove the lobbyists and you remove corporate influence over law and regulation.

I'd also forbid politicians from accepting corporate donations in any form. This will not only prevent politicians from being bought and paid for before ever reaching their elected post, but would again remove more of that corporate influence that's so often damaging. This would also level the playing field a bit more, allowing for more regular folk like Claudia Wright to compete in a money-rigged arena. There must be thousands of qualified, intelligent individuals that would love to serve their country in this way but are not able to because of money, or lack thereof.

I'd forbid politicians from accepting money from any source beyond private, individual donations. That way, the people will speak with their wallets about whom they'd prefer to speak on their behalf. Additionally, I'd limit the amount an individual can contribute to any one candidate, closing the gap between millionaires and paycheck to paycheck folk so that everybody who wants one, gets a voice.

See, Claudia's already found that she can't work in this world without cash and has told people that she'll not accept money from any PAC that she doesn't already support. Already she's left herself vulnerable to infulence by those PAC's that support her and I think she'll find that she won't always agree with what they want as she tries to push for what her constituents want. When she does disagree with her PAC donors, she be faced with losing that money or pursuing law she and her constituents may not agree with. This is a prepackaged dilemma I believe other well-meaning politicians have faced.

I would definitely allow for more public votes on public matters rather than encouraging closed door meetings between law makers and money men (or women, of course). Sure, we're told that we're all too ignorant of the process to participate beyond voting for our rep but I happen to believe that's false. Perhaps the process is simply too overgrown and needs a good shave?

Hell, man. I guess I have a couple ideas (a bit naive, perhaps) but what's the point? None of this will never happen.

I hope Claudia wins and I hope she has the guts to stick to her guns. I hope she listens to her constituents and votes their will, as intended and as should be. I hope she pays attention to local matters and represents Utahns with dignity, honesty and character.

If so, she may lighten some of that dark cynicism clouding my political spectacles. And that'd feel pretty good, really.

As always, thanks for the opportunity to speak my piece here. Whether I'm right or wrong, It's always appreicated on my part.


Posted // June 2,2010 at 15:12 - One more thing for now dude (of course!). I'd ensure that all politicians are required to read every bill and understand it before voting on it. Weird concept, huh?