Campaign cash—we’re drowning in a flood of it. As Katrina vanden Heuvel noted yesterday on GRITtv, this is on track to be a $5 billion election—and it’s not over.

We used to have words for spending like that on politicians: bribery. Remember all that quaint anti-colonial talk about "independence"? As Zephyr Teachout commented in a meeting I was part of, hosted by the Coffee Party, those founding fathers were all about independence from corruption and prosecuting bribery. Remember the term "antitrust"?

Now it seems the most we can hope for is "transparency." Well, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index is out now, and it’s pretty transparent: The United States has dropped in the world rankings to twenty-second, below Chile and just above Uruguay. "The world’s most peaceful countries score the best" reports the UK Guardian—places like Denmark and New Zealand—hmm. Maybe there’s a connection. (You’ll be relieved to know we’re above Somalia.)

Just think how far we’ve come. Once Tea Partyers fought corporate power. Now they live off it. Once corruption and bribery were the Axis of Evil. Today they’re Supreme Court–confirmed law. It’s trust-busting that the courts can’t stand.

In this election, poor people will vote on rich candidates covered by even richer corporate media. Bloated on a diet of billions of dollars of anonymous campaign ads, money media are nothing but happy. What would Tom Paine say?

He might say what Zephyr Teachout said. "What our country needs is less corruption and more good old fashioned bribery."

At least then we could prosecute the thieves of our democracy.

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at and Support us by signing up for our podcast, and follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on