Corruption. Our government is corrupted. It’s time to do something about the corruption. Here’s the blatant description of money influencing politics in Woodrow Wilson’s day:
“Every community is vaguely aware that the political machine upon which it looks askance has certain very definite connections with men who are engaged in business on a large scale, and the suspicion which attaches to the machine itself has begun to attach also to business enterprises, just because these connections are known to exist. If these connections were open and avowed, if everybody knew just what they involved and just what use was being made of them, there would be no difficulty in keeping an eye upon affairs and in controlling them by public opinion. But, unfortunately, the whole process of law-making in America is a very obscure one. There is no highway of legislation, but there are many by-ways. Parties are not organized in such a way in our legislatures as to make any one group of men avowedly responsible for the course of legislation. The whole process of discussion, if any discussion at all takes place, is private and shut away from public scrutiny and knowledge. There are so many circles within circles, there are so many indirect and private ways of getting at legislative action, that our communities are constantly uneasy during legislative sessions. It is this confusion and obscurity and privacy of our legislative method that gives the political machine its opportunity. There is no publicly responsible man or group of men who are known to formulate legislation and to take charge of it from the time of its introduction until the time of its enactment. It has, therefore, been possible for an outside force,—the political machine, the body of men who nominated the legislators and who conducted the contest for their election,—to assume the rôle of control. Business men who desired something done in the way of changing the law under which they were acting, or who wished to prevent legislation which seemed to them to threaten their own interests, have known that there was this definite body of persons to resort to, and they have made terms with them. They have agreed to supply them with money for campaign expenses and to stand by them in all other cases where money was necessary if in return they might resort to them for protection or for assistance in matters of legislation. Legislators looked to a certain man who was not even a member of their body for instructions as to what they were to do with particular bills. The machine, which was the centre of party organization, was the natural instrument of control, and men who had business interests to promote naturally resorted to the body which exercised the control.
“There need have been nothing sinister about this. If the whole matter had been open and candid and honest, public criticism would not have centered upon it. But the use of money always results in demoralization, and goes beyond demoralization to actual corruption. There are two kinds of corruption,—the crude and obvious sort, which consists in direct bribery, and the much subtler, more dangerous, sort, which consists in a corruption of the will. Business men who have tried to set up a control in politics through the machine have more and more deceived themselves, have allowed themselves to think that the whole matter was a necessary means of self-defence, have said that it was a necessary outcome of our political system. Having reassured themselves in this way, they have drifted from one thing to another until the questions of morals involved have become hopelessly obscured and submerged. How far away from the ideals of their youth have many of our men of business drifted, enmeshed in the vicious system,—how far away from the days when their fine young manhood was wrapped in ‘that chastity of honor which felt a stain like a wound!’”
Wilson, Woodrow. “Chapter 6/Let There Be Light.” The New Freedom; a Call for the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People. New York and Garden City: Doubleday, Page, 1913. 119-121. Print.