ChrisWeigant.com

Guest Author -- Brandon Grant On Political Corruption

[ Posted Wednesday, January 27th, 2016 – 17:22 UTC ]

Program Note: Towards the end of last year, I agreed to offer this column space as a prize in an essay contest for high school students. The contest was run by the Museum of Political Corruption project, a non-profit organization currently raising funds to build a museum dedicated to the history of political corruption in Albany, New York. I've always supported such a noble idea, so it was natural for me to offer up the column space. So today, I'm proud to present the first-ever winner of the "What is political corruption and why should we care?" essay contest.

The winning entry was from Brandon Grant, a high school senior from Oswego High School in Oswego, New York. He heard about the contest from a former criminal justice teacher of his, and decided it would be worth entering. His essay is presented below. Brandon is thinking about pursuing education as a career, and he had this to say about the subject of political corruption: " I feel it's a great subject to discuss and will try to educate more people in the future about it. The more people informed the better."

Although it was not specifically part of the prize, I am pleased to announce that Brandon's essay will also run on the Huffington Post, which should look pretty good on a college application. I offer my congratulations to Brandon Grant, and would encourage all interested high school students to enter next year's contest, as well.

-- Chris Weigant

 

What Is Political Corruption And Why Should We Care?

People are suffering and need your help! You're a United States legislator and you have just been presented with an up-and-coming bill. If this bill passes, people will receive aid and live better lives. However, special interests (that contribute handsomely to your re-election) don't approve of the bill. So who will you listen to? The people or the special interest groups? Why, the special interest groups, of course! After all, how does helping the people benefit you? That, right there, is an example of political corruption. More and more in modern society those elected to office to serve the interests of the people are being bought off by special interests to make sure any new legislation put into place benefits their businesses and their ideals; thus silencing any who might go against them.

One of the biggest elements in our society that facilitate corruption is the way our politicians finance their election campaigns. The best way to win an election is to get your name out there to the people; however, that takes funding. Special interests and corporations will gladly provide campaign funding in exchange for a politician's loyalty. Not only will special interests or corporations pay a politician's way into office (via ads, billboards and air time), those contacts can be lucrative in the near future. They might promise the candidate a well-paying job as a lobbyist once he or she leaves office, for instance. An example being former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who joined the multi-million dollar lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro shortly after resigning from Congress, and who then allegedly used his earnings as "hush money" to keep quiet a student he'd molested as a wrestling coach. After an extended period of time, politicians become so dependent on special interests to preserve their careers, they would dare not do anything that benefits anyone other than those interests -- for fear of "biting the hand that feeds them."

Once a political leader has been bought off by a faceless corporation, what does that mean for the American people? Well one of the first things a corrupt politician will do when working for a special interest is they will receive bills drafted by lobbyists that fit the corporation's needs. For instance, if a large food industry wants to mass produce lower-quality foods, a politician will lobby for the health standards to be lowered in America, cheapening the cost to rake in large sums for that industry. In a government where money talks, morals mean almost nothing.

Though political corruption is alive and well, what can we do to combat it? The obvious answer is to educate the masses. Many people are unaware of how their leaders are being bought off and are lying to them for their paycheck. However, groups are arising to try this fix this, such as Represent.Us. This organization has been petitioning to change policies at the local level and will eventually target the federal level. If people can be informed properly, change will come.

-- Brandon Grant

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

19 Comments on “Guest Author -- Brandon Grant On Political Corruption”

  1. [1] 
    Paula wrote:

    Excellent!

  2. [2] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    Brandon Grant is ready to work on the Sanders campaign. Good on you for lending him your platform!

  3. [3] 
    neilm wrote:

    Cleanly written and compelling. Thanks.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Congratulations, Brandon!

    I hope you will keep us posted on the progress of Represent.Us. and join in on the general conversation here, from time to time.

    I would be interested in knowing which political leaders at the local, state and/or national level inspire you.

  5. [5] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    well said, mr. grant. fair warning, life as a professional educator is currently quite perilous, for precisely the reasons you've so eloquently laid out. there's a lot of money to be made at the expense of our nation's students. as i'm sure you're fully aware, education laws have been increasingly geared toward enriching the corporations who print textbooks and administer standardized tests, not the minds of young men and women.

    nonetheless, it heartens me to know that bright young minds are still willing to devote themselves to the cause of making one slice of the world a bit smarter. congratulations, your award is well-earned.

    JL

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well written commentary...

    I would just have one minor suggestion...

    Tone down the obvious partisanship...

    Corruption knows no Party loyalty.. You give a decent example of corruption from the Right Wingery.. There are as good or even BETTER examples of corruption from the Left as well...

    And example of corruption from the Left as well would round out your commentary and make it appear less partisan, which is what the Museum Of Political Corruption is also striving for...

    Don't get me wrong... What you DO have is red meat to 35% of the country, as the comments here in Weigantia attest to... :D

    But wouldn't it be nice to appeal to almost 100% of the country?? :D

    It would mean the difference between being a partisan educator perfect for our institutions of so-called "Higher Education"... :^/

    Or being a great teacher at the High School level, actually molding our next generation of leaders... Like our own NYPoet22 here.. :D

    Other than that minor nit-pick, yours was a great commentary....

    Kudos...

    Michale

  7. [7] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Congratulations, Brandon.
    "If people can be informed properly, change will come."
    I would have to disagree that most people don't know about the problem. The information they need is what to do about it.
    While groups like Represent.us mean well, none of them have any solutions that will be effective for years to come.
    Citizens need to be informed about the only solution that can be effective in the 2016 elections because it can be implemented under current election law. This approach could get several candidates financed by small contributions elected to Congress and the Senate in the 2016 elections.
    If you are a supporter of Represent.us than you should encourage them to support this idea.
    If Represent.us were to join with Democracy Spring and Bernie supporters to inform citizens about this idea it would make actual change happen in 2016.
    With the support of Represent.us, the celebrities and organizations of Democracy Spring and Bernie supporters we could easily get 15% of the general election voters to vote for small contribution candidates ("hundred dollar candidates)in the 2016 congressional primaries. In primaries where it is too late to get a hundred dollar candidate on the ballot citizens can write in a hundred dollar candidate or write in their own name to register a vote against the Big Money candidates and create demand for hundred dollar candidates in the general election.
    Because less than 50% of general election voters vote in the primaries the 15% voting for hundred dollar candidates will be more than 30% of the primary vote. This will inspire more citizens to participate in the general election, maybe 20-30%. This will result in an independent, third party or even the token major party candidate in a safe district for the other current major party to run as a hundred dollar candidate in the 2016 general election. This will result in anywhere from 10-50 hundred dollar candidates elected to Congress and the Senate in 2016.
    This will result in more citizens participating in 2018, 30-40%. This will result in record voter turnout for an off-year election and many more hundred dollar candidates elected in 2018.
    This will result in more citizens participating in
    2020, 40-50%. Then the majority of congressional districts will have competitive hundred dollar candidates in 2020.
    Will any legislation or constitutional amendments be passed and implemented by 2020, much less in time for 2016 ?
    Anyone that wants the Big Money out of politics should contact Represent.us, the celebrities and organizations of Democracy Spring and encourage any Bernie supporters to also support this idea.
    More info http://www.vouchervendetta.org

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Does Brandon Grant know that his piece is here, with comments?

    I'd be interested in hearing his response to Don Harris ...

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    A response to Michale's comment would be nice, too ...

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    A response to Michale's comment would be nice, too ...

    Thank you, Liz... I tried not to be my usual prick-ish self and actually be constructive...

    In the past, CW went to great pains to illustrate that the Museum of Political Corruption was not partisan in the least and treated both Partys equally when it comes to corruption...

    I just felt that Brandon's essay, while very VERY good, would be even better if it adopted the same bi-partisan tone...

    :D

    Michale

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    I tried not to be my usual prick-ish self and actually be constructive...

    I think I might have pulled a muscle or something.. :D heh

    Michale

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Heh.

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    Here is a piece by Bill Moyers urging President Obama to take executive action on the campaign finance reform front.

    Specifically, he is asking Obama to sign an executive order to make all federal contractors to disclose all funds directed to political campaigns.

    What do you think ... a good start?
    http://billmoyers.com/story/lets-ask-obama-to-give-this-speech-next/?utm_source=General+Interest&utm_campaign=69781fd947-Midweek12171412_17_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4ebbe6839f-69781fd947-168318257

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    An excellent place to start..

    We're only going to get change on this issue when the people start holding their OWN leaders accountable..

    When this issue is used SOLELY to beat political opponents over the head with, it cheapens and denigrates the issue as completely un-important..

    Partisans need to clean their OWN glass house first before they start casting stones.

    That's what's missing from Brandon's essay, IMNSHO... The idea that political corruption is a BI PARTISAN issue, not just an issue for Democrats to cast blame on Republicans...

    Michale

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So, when President Obama signs such an executive order directing all federal contractors to fully disclose all political spending on lobbyists, pols, and campaigns, you will support this action?

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    Abso-frakin'-loutly..

    As long as it's EVENLY, FAIRLY and Party-Blind applied, I whole-heartedly support such a move..

    Michale

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That's great because, it sounds like he's about to do that!

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    Obama says he is going to do a lot of things..

    But when the rubber hits the road, it is pretty much ALWAYS done in a partisan stick-it-to-the-Right manner...

    But we'll see.. This time might be different. :D

    Michale

  19. [19] 
    jhentai wrote:

    great article! thanks!

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