Last Thursday during the Vice Presidential debate, Joe Biden became one of the very few members of the White House to openly condemn illicit money groups in the political process, stating that:
These special new groups that can go out there, raise all the money they want, not have to identify themselves, who say the most scurrilous things about the other candidate–it’s an abomination.
For Vice President Biden this position is nothing new. As early as 1974, the then 32-year-old Senator Biden participated in a debate regarding the initial legislation that would limit campaign contributions and increase transparency. When asked multiple questions regarding campaign finance, he answered that:
The system does produce corruption, I think implicit in the system is corruption when in fact whether or not you can run for public office, and it costs a great deal of money to run for the United States Senate… you have to go to those people that have money. And they always want something.
You know that unless you accidentally agree with the position taken by the person or the group that has money, you run the risk to prostitute yourself to give the answer they want to hear in order to get funded to run for that office–and it’s coincidental, in many instances, when in fact you happen to agree with where they are. And you run the risk of rationalizing. You say: “Well if I compromise on this one, give him one, well then I get ninety percent of what I want and I don’t have to to give him too much.”
We were told that we politicians, as the young kids say, rip off the American public. I think the American public, in a way, rips off we politicians by forcing us to run the way they do. To raise $300,000 is no mean feat, and unless you happen to be some sort of anomaly like myself — being a 29-year-old candidate who can attract some attention beyond your own state — it’s very difficult to raise that money from a large group of people.
I think full disclosure is essential… but that’s not going to get to the question of how you have to raise the money and the influence of those who come forward with the money, whether they be a labor union or a corporate executive.
Why does a guy want to give $50 when he knows that Clement Stone is giving $7 million? What influence is his $50 going to have?
I think that this is the single most important issue that can be resolved by this congress.
With that, Joe Biden hit pretty much every nail on the head. The current system not only breeds corruption, but also discourages individual participation. What was true nearly 40 years ago is once again true today–that, as the Vice-President has put it, politicians are “prostituting” themselves to the special interests. In order to encourage participation and get America involved in democracy again, we need to end the bribes that politicians take in the form of campaign contributions.
Watch then-Senator Biden testify regarding campaign finance below. The above quotations were taken from 5:30-8:45.