McNally: A basket of broken eggs

When the average Geneseo student was in grade school, there existed a delicate balance in American politics that maintained the interminable status quo. Powerful private interests would weigh their bets, balance their risks, and throw a lot of financial support into the different parties in the hopes that the figures they supported would gain seats and reciprocate in the form of political patronage.

This delicate ecosystem of big business sponsorship and political security was maintained by the close competition of the parties. Private interests had to make sure they didn't bet completely on one horse, in fact, they had to compete for horses to bet on. Because of the indeterminable possibility that any one politician or party would gain power, the powerful had to spread their resources across the board and insure that they had an "in" in as many electoral outcomes as possible.

After September 11th though, the race between parties wasn't much of a race at all. The White House was extraordinarily influential, both houses of Congress were comfortably in Republican control and most private interest groups, like the pharmaceutical drug lobby, were in the perfect situation. They could spend all their time lobbying the Republicans, who had the only political influence in Washington and were quite attuned to their interests. And boy did they shine. In the last six years the pharmaceutical drug lobby was able to incorporate legislation that made it illegal for the government to collectively bargain for lower drug prices, giving senior citizens and lower class Americans dependent on Medicare the highest drug costs of any industrialized country in the world. The bond was made when Republicans were a sure shot. You give me the money, I give you the vote.

But the Democrats were elected not because of overwhelming commercial sponsorship, which the Republicans still enjoyed at the time of their defeat. They were elected by a purely grassroots cry of political expression on behalf of the voting public - for the forbearance they exhibited on Iraq, on mudslinging campaigns, on careless spending, and the political shortcomings of their opponents. They were elected individually without endorsements and reservoirs of campaign cash, but with political posterity in a time when every bold and dangerous decision hasn't gone America's way. And because this victory was so grassroots, because it did not progress through the usual channels of consent and support from consortiums of wealthy industrialists, and because no lobby bet on this horse, for the first time in a long time, there is a party in power who owes no favors to faceless associations behind closed doors.

Look at the numbers: agribusiness, defense, insurance, retail, real estate, health care and manufacturing interests each spent two to three times as much on Republican campaigns than on Democrats this election. The Democrats own their victory and are bound to no one before the public who elected them and so they have nothing to lose. Case is point: Democrats have promised, within their first few hours of Congressional control, to pass legislation that forces down drug costs. This isn't an empty campaign promise, they have already gained control. This is the unfettered reform no college-aged American has ever had a chance to see - a party who are as they appear, a face on the TV that has no reason to betray what it says. And every time you pick up a paper you see them breaking the legislative cycle of patronage. They are in the act of passing legislation which forces sponsors of bills that give money directly to certain companies or industries to disclose their identities, pulling the covers off of easily bought officials and their commercial bedfellows. Genuine public loyalty is an amazing thing to behold. After all, they can make enemies of these groups, but they can't lose friends.