Political Office as a Product (ie a capital asset)

Posted by davidmcnab 5 years, 4 months ago to Politics
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What is the opinion in the objectivist community around buying of elections?

Given the relatively recent SCOTUS verdict allowing effectively unrestricted election campaign funding, and the known capability for money to sway mass voter opinion, we have a situation where political office can be bought with relative ease, given enough money and stage-management of the (at least reasonably presentable) candidate.

This transforms political office from a democratic choice into a capital asset, bought and sold on the free market. With this comes the ability to create advantages for some people and industries, and create disadvantages for others. Laws for sale.

Does this demand an abandonment of democracy in its current form? At this stage, I'm not seeing any 'outs' from this contradiction apart from hard-core anarcho, or heavily refereed centrist, or an entirely new model of appointments to government office.


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  • Posted by $ jbrenner 5 years, 4 months ago
    Rockefeller, Carnegie, and JP Morgan bought the election of McKinley in 1896. They put Teddy Roosevelt in as VP to put him in a position of no authority and get him out of the way. That one backfired, didn't it? Buying elections is not as easy as one might expect.
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    • Posted by 5 years, 4 months ago
      Good argument, except that this crew didn't have access to today's advanced technologies of psychological manipulation, video production, mass media etc.
      Agreed that outright buying of elections can be difficult. But money can certainly shift double-digit percentage points.
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      • Posted by $ jbrenner 5 years, 4 months ago
        Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Morgan outspent William Jennings Bryan (later of the Scopes monkey trial fame) by 5:1. Morgan, in particular, bought the press.
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        • Posted by 5 years, 4 months ago
          That was where 19th century mass-manipulation technology was at. Since then, we've seen the explosion of modern psychology, a 120-year evolution from the early psychoanalysts through to today's advanced science-based methods. For example, it's nothing for political campaign managers to use fMRI brain imaging techniques on randomly-sampled volunteers to assess the unconscious impacts of certain people, policies, words, colours etc.
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  • Posted by $ Abaco 5 years, 4 months ago
    "With this comes the ability to create advantages for some people and industries, and create disadvantages for others. Laws for sale." I don't see this as a liability. It is an asset - a business model. Politics is mainly about money. And, for the most part, egomaniacs are attracted to it. I have to interface with elected politicians here in California for some of the work I do. For the most part, they act like sociopaths in person. They aren't like us. These are different animals.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 5 years, 4 months ago
    I have these same questions.

    I cannot understand why campaign money is still powerful now that anyone can get ideas out for free. I would expect it have become more of a "marketplace" of free ideas where popular ideas go viral.

    My thought is the ads work on people who are not really into policy and don't follow it that closely. This make me wonder if it would be better if it were harder to vote. I know that could be abused, but I wonder if it would elevate the level of discourse and decrease the influence of campaign contributions if candidates knew people swayed by stupid attack ads would mostly not be voting.
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  • Posted by Zenphamy 5 years, 4 months ago
    It's not just the SCOTUS decision--this has been the situation in politics since politics began--back about the time there was more than one human. It will continue as long as government at any level is allowed to do more than protect individual rights.

    That is reality.
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