Hey, you guys remember Buddy Roemer, right? Former Louisiana Governor? Re-emerged after a quarter-century of being out of politics to announce he was running for President? Last seen procuring a Winnebago? Yeah, that guy. He's been out of the news so long that I started to worry that he had forgotten that he was a Presidential candidate.
But there's good news: over at ThinkProgress, Lee Fang has posted an interview with Roemer from a Tea Party rally in New Hampshire, and he's making some refreshingly honest points about the way our democratic process is unduly influenced by corporate cash. "Right now," Roemer says, "too often the political debate has become about the money and not about the issues."
FANG: You’re running in the Republican primary. And some of the biggest players in the Republican Party are groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the NFIB, these big money, big corporate groups that are the reason the DISCLOSE Act died. They lobbied both Democrats and Republicans to kill the bill in the Senate.
ROEMER: It’s disastrous, it's dysfunctional, to their shame. You might look at the big unions on the Democratic side. The guys with the bucks want unfettered regulation. They want to run America. [...] The reason the tax code is four thousand pages long and paid no taxes last year and made five billion dollars? It’s [campaign] checks. That’s whats wrong with the American system. It’s not free anymore. It’s bought. [...]
FANG: How are you going to directly challenge them? I mean, you’ve placed limits on yourself, but what are you going to do about Karl Rove’s groups?
ROEMER: Well, Karl Rove can contribute to me. One hundred dollars!
FANG: But he’s got these front groups with undisclosed money.
ROEMER: I understand. You know I’ve got to run against the system. It’s corrupt. And the only way I know how to do it -- and if you have a better idea, give it to me Lee -- is by example.
The influence of corporate money and lobbying is, of course, a pernicious problem that routinely interferes with the democratic process and places ordinary citizens at a disadvantage. It really doesn't matter a whit what party you support. Roemer is one of the few people willing to talk about it, but his principled stand comes with a cost: His pledge to keep to $100 contributions has kept his campaign coffers empty. But Roemer's problem is our problem: When principles can't buy you egg rolls, the system is broken.
Good policy ideas should sell themselves, right? And lawmakers who govern at the pleasure of ordinary people should be a commodity unto themselves. So what is all the money in politics actually for? Turd polish, frankly.
I'd like to be able to say, "Give 'em hell at the debate tonight, Buddy," but as you might have expected, Roemer -- after being initially confirmed as an attendee -- failed to qualify for the debate because he didn't hit 1 percent in five national polls.
READ THE WHOLE INTERVIEW: GOP Presidential Candidate Gov. Roemer Slams Lobbyists As ‘What’s Wrong With The American System’ [ThinkProgress]