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Big Money Government
6/19/2013 12:57:02 PM

By Barney Blakeney

When I read a recent news report of the money candidates vying for the First Congressional District seat spent, I was flabbergasted. 

According to that report, the 16 Republican and two Democratic candidates spent some $6 million in the effort to get elected. Elizabeth Colbert Busch spent about $2 million in her defeat against Mark Sanford who spent about $1 million. That’s more money than my dad, who died raising four children, ever made in his entire life!

I remember reading somewhere that the recent U.S. presidential election cost candidates about $2 billion. The upcoming S.C. Senate Dist. 42 election shouldn’t cost quite as much, but I’ve heard estimates that candidates could spend between $30,000-$100,000 to get elected to the seat. Them’s a lot o’ ham sandwiches, ya’ll.

I’m really incensed that it costs so much to get elected to public office. The cost of getting elected makes a mockery of the old saying that in America, any man can become president, or hold any other public office for that matter.

If you’re not wealthy, or have the means to acquire the money it takes to successfully run a campaign for public office, you can’t get elected to any of these offices.

That means special interests determine who gets elected in our system of government. f you think the person you voted for in the last election represents your interests, think again. That person is accountable to those who financed his election.

I’ve known for a long time that American politics is a chess game in which voters are mere pawns. The people we elect to office are chosen by someone other than us, paid by someone other than us and represent someone other than us.

Mind you, like all the other lemmings in this march over the political cliffs, I vote in every election. But every now and then, I look up and am reminded I’m being herded. A few years back I looked up to see a Charleston County School Board election in which a candidate had spent over $50,000 to get elected.

Now those guys are paid about $25 per meeting and gas mileage to sit on that board. So I wondered why anyone would spend $50,000 to get elected to it. Then I thought about what the school board does. Charleston County School Board sets policies for the school district. The board approves all its spending.

The county school district has the county’s largest annual budget. This year we’re looking at about $400,000 in spending. Kick in what the county will spend for construction and you’re looking at close to $1 billion in spending for the school district. That too, is a lot o’ ham sandwiches.

When Maria Goodloe-Johnson was hired as county schools superintendent, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce kicked in a heap of cash to up her salary. What does the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce do? It advocates for businesses. The county schools superintendent is the manager of the agency with the county’s largest annual budget.

It didn’t take me long to figured out why someone would spend $50,000 to get on the county school board.

This may sound strange to some folks, but I agree with some Tea Party philosophies. I think the American people do need to take back their government. When government no longer serves the will of the people, its time to abolish the government. All this stuff about our government eavesdropping on people’s phone calls and text messages is scary stuff. Where does it stop?

Unfortunately, our government is a runaway train. But contrary to the 1970s song “Ain’t no stoppin’ us now”, our government’s runaway train can be stopped. It’s going to take conscientious effort, but we can put the brakes on that puppy.

How can we eat the elephant that has become our government? One bite at a time, beginning with the next election in your community. Don’t allow some special interest to choose who gets elected in your community, whether its developers in Mount Pleasant or construction contractors in downtown Charleston.

I recently read Brian Hicks column where he said something about low information voters - voters who don’t take the time to understand for whom or what they’re voting.

Reminds me of voters in S.C. Senate Dist. 42. That 65 percent Black senate district has some of the local Black community’s most affluent and educated voters, but most of ‘em ain’t got a clue.

Folks are saying the voters in the First Congressional were out to lunch in electing Mark Sanford into office. I wonder if the voters in S.C. Senate Dist. 42 will show any better. 

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