A great documentary aired this week on the Discovery Times network called Taking the Hill. It recounts the stories of four veterans running for Congress as Democrats in ’06. It’s a moving portrayal of sacrifice and service. It’s also a probing look at what one candidate, Rick Bolanos, calls “the prostitution of our political system,” the need to constantly raise an ever-increasing amount of campaign cash.
We see how Eric Massa, a Naval officer brimming with passion from upstate New York, is forced to spend four to five hours a day cold-calling strangers to ask for money. “I’ve raised more money in this Congressional campaign than I made in my entire military career,” Massa says.
It’s never enough. The campaign professionals in Washington don’t judge Massa based on his record of service or what he thinks about policy issues. It’s all about money. They view his campaign, and all the others, as a giant ATM. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee even tries to recruit a human resources downsizer to run for the same seat.
The tragedy of this story in particular is that VA budgets get cut while the price of campaigns skyrocket. Imagine if we took even a small percentage of what campaigns cost nowadays and gave it to our soldiers. Now that would be supporting the troops.