Friday, October 13, 2006

Always a place for idealism

Those who're hardened by the cynicism of big money in politics might view Democratic congressional candidate Jim Hansen's $100 campaign donation limit as naïve, overly idealistic, simply Quixotic or election time talk.

We think not. Hansen is not new to politics and thus has a keen eye for changes that best serve the nation and constituents. His father, Orval Hansen, served for 12 years in the Idaho Legislature and in Congress for six years.

By restricting donations to $100, Hansen cuts himself off from large donors, which he feels seek unfair access to lawmakers. His shoestring financing forces him, therefore, to pound the pavement throughout the 2nd Congressional District to meet and persuade voters to elect him over incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Simpson.

A wave of revulsion is sweeping the country about big money mixing with politics. Several congressmen are in prison or en route as the result of the influence of money.

Washington has more than 30,000 registered lobbyists, many who are high-minded advocates for worthy viewpoints. But others openly act as conduits for large amounts of money to members of Congress in exchange for special access and favors.

Hansen's model campaign of limited donations may not create overnight reform. But it can inspire other candidates as well as stir more small donors to his cause.

Onetime California Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh's jaded candor is worth remembering: "Money is the mother's milk of politics."

But also worth noting was the wisdom of biblical disciple Timothy, who said, "For the love of money is the root of all evil."

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