As Josh has rightly noted, the current wave of public corruption cases is largely the result of GOP machine politics.
It’s easy to get distracted by the baubles and the booty. Scottish golf trips. Persian rugs. Limousines and hookers.
But personal aggrandizement is not the sum total of these various cases. That’s just the carrying charge, the price of doing business.
The GOP machine is built on the nexus of earmarks, lobbying fees, government contracts, and laundered monies. Aboveboard campaign contributions (i.e., corporate cash) play a part, but the under-the-table money fuels the machine.
That’s why a Jack Abramoff has access to the White House. It’s why a Tom Delay rises to become House majority leader. It’s why the revolving door keeps spinning.
Machine politics subordinates ideology to the exigencies of keeping the machine running. Thus you have out-of-control federal spending under professed small-government conservatives. You have conservative foreign policy elites wary of foreign entanglements suddenly proclaiming the good news of nation-building.
Independents and honest Republicans recognize the threat that machine politics poses to democratic institutions. It trumps party, ideology, and competent government. It also trumps God, flag, and country.
So, in the 2006 elections, are you with the machine or are you against it?