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Gedogen, Or Another Modest Proposal

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The recent Supreme Court decision to allow corporations and labor unions to spend

whatever they want on political advertising has offended members of both parties.

The New York Times calls it "A blow to Democracy," and urges "the public who care

about fair elections and clean government to mobilize right away." Senator Russ

Feingold in USA Today says, "Elections will become like NASCAR races, underwritten

by companies." But the high Court says that corporations are no different from you or

me. Its ruling seems to go against Chief Justice John Roberts' own confirmation vow to

have the high Court just "call balls and strikes." Now, Justice Roberts explains, "There's

a difference between judicial restraint and judicial abdication." Right.

But I don't want to see a bunch of billboards or TV spots crafted by lobbyists and ad

salesmen telling me which candidate is good or bad. I want to see it straight from the

candidates themselves - in person. How do we accomplish this? Here's one suggestion:

I propose that every elected politician, state and federal, instead of going on hunting

trips in Wyoming, appearing on So You Think You Can Dance or hiking in the

Adirondacks, be required to spend a given amount of time before an election sitting in a

window, perhaps in Georgetown with its little one and two story shops, with a sign

around their necks proclaiming how much it will cost for their vote, be it on health care,

corporate bailouts, cap-and-trade, whatever. I'd like to know up front - wouldn't you?

If I'm from let's say Nebraska or Louisiana, how much it will cost for my Senator or

Representative to support a bill he or she has not and will never read.

Since the 17th Century, the age of Rembrandt and Vermeer, the good burghers of

Amsterdam had to decide how to deal with the world's oldest profession. Prohibit it

or regulate and condone it? When a foreigner visits Amsterdam for the first time, the

sight of prostitutes sitting in windows seems shocking. A few days there and you

become used to it. It even seems civilized.

We all know it's illegal for a politician to actually sell a vote, but the Dutch have a

word for activities that are illegal, but unofficially tolerated..GEDOGEN.

Amsterdam officials don't use the word "brothel," they're known as "alternative

businesses." Isn't that what our politics has become? An alternative business?

There could be sections for older politicians as there are for older prostitutes in

Amsterdam. Those running for office could even offer a discount, say for the holidays

or a candy cane for the kids.

But let's get down to basics.. How much for your vote?