Monday, November 3, 2014

Street Money In Politics... A Slippery Slope

Pennsylvania Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf has refused to give three hundred and forty thousand dollars to Philadelphia politicians to fund their "get out the vote" effort on Election Day. Wolf joins Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who refused to give money to Philadelphia ward leaders in the 2008 Democratic Primary for the same purpose. This granting of "street money" to local politicians is a well established practice in a number of American cities. In rejecting the request Wolf stated the following:
"I'm not one to do that, ... I think I'm trying to appeal to people's best instincts to vote. I don't want them to vote or bring people out or do something because I'm paying them - I want them to do it because they actually think their lives might be better. It might sound naive . . . if it takes some cash to do that, then I've failed as a politician."

Without mincing words I would agree with the objection the candidate raises... Again. If people can be paid for their vote, then they can be paid to withhold that vote. Not too long ago a certain campaign manager for a Gubernatorial candidate in the State of New Jersey "bragged" about spending half a million dollars to get some Black church leaders to influence their congregants to withhold their vote in certain urban precincts. We complain much, and justly so, about efforts to suppress the vote in mainly minority communities. The other side of that story is what I would call the self suppression of an electorate that refuses to take the initiatives necessary to ensure their meaningful participation in the democratic process.

Tomorrow is another Election Day. There are critical issues on the ballot that will impact the quality of life and the future of cities like Pholadelphia. These issues include the provision of adequate funding for Education, legislating a liveable wage, Healthcare policy, and many others. The very people whose lives are most affected by these issues must arouse the initiative within themselves that it takes to get the kind of leadership that will deliver on these issues. Talk is cheap. It is time to act in favor of the future we desire. No one can do for us that which we must be doing for ourselves. Wake up people, your future waits. Eventually we will get the government we deserve.

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