Brooks Jackson

Recent Articles

Electoral Detox: A Twelve-Step Cure for Donor Dependency

“Hi, I’m Congressman Bob, and I’ve got a problem. I’m hooked on campaign contributions.” That should be the first step.

America's elected officials have become addicted to political money, and among the most dependent are members of the United States Congress. Everyone recognizes the more obvious Symptoms: escalating campaign expenditures, growing reliance on political action committees (PACs), incessant solicitations, recurring scandals. But the underlying malady is more dangerous than most lawmakers will admit. Like addiction to alcohol or drugs, it is a disease that attacks both body and spirit. Many lawmakers would like some changes, but not at any cost to their political party or themselves. Senate Democrats want a ceiling on expenditures that President Bush says he will veto. Bush favors the near-abolition of PACs, which House Democrats reject. The current debate is as bitter as it is shallow, like a fight between drunks over whether black coffee or a cold shower is the better path to sobriety. The odds of enacting serious change remain close to zero. Money can destroy a democracy absolutely, but...