Bribing the Poor to Win Votes: We Could Use Some of This Kind of 'Corruption' in American Politics

What a devilishly sneaky guy that Jose Danial Ortega Saavedra is!

Why this president of Nicaragua, and former leader of the Sandinista rebels in their successful 1979 overthrow of U.S.-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, in order to win re-election this fall, as he appears to have done, according to the New York Times, “shrewdly adopted policies aimed at pleasing his base of poor and working-class Nicaraguans, including supplying them with government-donated food”!

Why of all the nerve! What a crook and a scheister! Imagine catering to the needs of the poor in order to win an election. How low can a politician stoop?

Except that, wait a minute. Isn’t that what politicians are supposed to do: to adopt policies aimed at pleasing their base?
Daniel Ortega allegedly helped the poor in order to win votes, and re-election to the presidency of NicaraguaDaniel Ortega allegedly helped the poor in order to win votes, and re-election to the presidency of Nicaragua

Not to mention, isn’t the basic idea of government supposed to be to improve the lot of the majority, and especially of those who are society’s neediest? I mean, even rabid conservatives and supporters of unfettered capitalism like the wretched Milton Freedman or Ayn Rand at least pretend that their abject support of the rich and the powerful is motivated by an ideological conviction that this is the best way to improve the lot of the majority of the people? (I know, I know, they don’t really believe that, but they have to at least pretend that’s their motivation.)

Here in the US, have we moved so far away from true democracy that we now consider it corrupt for a politician to act in the interest of the downtrodden? Are we so far gone that if a candidate helps the poor it is seen as no different (or maybe somehow worse?) than doing a favor for a wealthy campaign contributor or for a big corporation that has given the candidate a bribe?

How pathetic can American “journalism” get?

I won’t pretend to be an expert on Nicaraguan politics. It may be that Commandante Ortega, who risked his life joining and leading an insurgency against Somoza and the wrath of his bloody imperialist backers in Washington, and who for years has been dedicated to bettering the lot of the poor people of Nicaragua, has succumbed to that corruption so endemic to Latin American politics, but geez, let’s not call offering help to the poor a form of corruption!

Frankly, President Barack Obama (and most of the rest of the Democrats in Congress for that matter), could take a lesson from Ortega, and do something himself on behalf of the poor in America, instead of just shoveling money into the hands of the banksters, and cutting deals to let them escape regulation and investigation. What a shocking change of tack that would be! How about sending back all the money he’s been getting from Wall Street banks and ordering his bank regulators to mandate a resetting of the principal on mortgages to the actual value of the homes being mortgaged, and then, as leverage, telling his attorney general to begin criminal investigations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) against the heads of any banks that don’t agree to go along? How about re-establishing free health clinics around the country, like we had back in the late 1960s, so that everyone could get easy access to primary care? How about slashing miltary spending and putting some of that saved money into a public jobs program for returning veterans and other long-term unemployed people?

A little of that “pandering to the poor” and he might even find himself going from underdog for re-election to shoe-in.

Of course, the US media would, true to form, accuse him of being corrupt for shamelessly “pleasing his base,” as the New York Times put it, referring to the “shrewd” President Ortega. But what the hell, politics is a rough game.

I for one would welcome a “corrupt” democracy where politicians buy votes from the poor by offering them jobs and food. What a different place America would be if we had a little corruption like that, instead of the corruption we have now, where politicians spend their time catering to the needs of the fat cats and corporations that feed their campaign kitties with millions of dollars in legal bribes.