Follow the Money

Campaign Conundrum – part 1 of 2

During the many years I taught American History to high school students, a theme began to emerge as we looked at the ebb and flow of events over the centuries. The desire to colonize North America, the rush for land grants from the King, the skullduggery of pitting European nations against each other, the curse of slavery, the Homestead Act, the Missouri Compromise, the Trans-Continental Railroad, the Panama Canal, the Gold Rush, etc. All these projects and events were moved along by a single thread: Follow The Money.

If you wondered why people would risk life and limb to get to America, Follow The Money. If you wondered why men went west and surveyed vast lands, Follow The Money. If you wondered why indigenous peoples were treated badly, Follow The Money. If you wanted to get a sense of Manifest Destiny, Follow The Money. Today, if you wonder why politicians want to stay in Washington as long as possible, follow the money. If you wonder why council members vote for a municipal project that the citizens of a city do not want, follow the money. If you want to see why normally sensible legislators support a budget-busting bill, follow the money.

It sounds cynical, but when my students applied this test to numerous historical and current events they discovered its truthfulness. It truly is all about the money. Today, entire pieces of legislation are driven by what financial favors can be gained by the granting of a vote. By following the money in politics today, we can generally determine which direction the politicians will lean.

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