We've just learned that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) won't be facing the ethics committee for trial, though that doesn't mean Republicans will stop attacking him as a sign of Democratic corruption.
But to say that Rangel is the only one mixed up in the unsavory combination of cash, influence and policy-making would be disingenuous. Just today we saw reports of Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) steering $250 million in earmarks to former staffers and campaign contributors. Speaker-wannabe Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) is selling private access to his office to those able to bundle $100,000. The PMA lobbying scandal is still unfolding. And just a few weeks ago, we learned that the Office of Congressional Ethics is looking into possible quid-pro-quos in the votes and political fundraisers of a handful of key lawmakers during the financial reform debate.
It's not about Republicans or Democrats or just some random members. It's not a few bad apples--it's the whole damn barrel that's rotten.
Members of Congress spend their days regulating the industries they take cash from at night. Our political system is predicated on this inherent conflict of interest that encourages trading policy favors for campaign cash. It is no wonder confidence in our government is at an all time low. Voters think their members of Congress are accountable to their special interest donors instead of them.
It's time to restore government to one that is of, by, and for the people and not bought and paid for by special interests. With nearly 200 supporters in the House, Congress should move forward with the Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 1826, S. 752), which would end candidates' reliance on big money campaign donations.
From minority party freshmen right up to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), there's not a single incumbent who wouldn't benefit from demonstrating to their voters that they are ready to jettison our pay-to-play political system.
Rep. Rangel may be the one in the spotlight today, but it's the whole system that's guilty.