No more White House tours?

Symbol of hopeless political division

March 16, 2013 

Brad Parke of Knott County is a student at the Appalachian School of Law.

When President Barack Obama announced the cancellation of public tours at the White House, it solidified the message to the American public that money controls politics in Washington D.C.

However, such inside access is not limited to the Obama administration, but has encompassed both political parties.

The prohibition on White House tours is simply symbolic of the toxic nature of American politics.

In light of sequestration cuts by Congress, Obama recently halted access to White House public tours by claiming cuts were necessary because the Secret Service, which oversees security for public tours, lost significant funding with the budget cuts. However, this decision is the result of a much bigger problem in our democracy.

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court declared that organizations could spend unlimited amounts of money in elections, thus forming what have become known as super PACS. Not only did this ruling make a mockery of the protections of the First Amendment, but contributed to the gridlock in Congress.

While initially Obama decried the court's decision, he succumbed to the inevitable during the 2012 campaign as a political necessity, as have most of his colleagues in Washington in both parties.

A recent group, Organizing for America, an organization of former Obama campaign advisers, was formed to raise money to advance the agenda of the president in order to sway public opinion.

The plan is to raise half of the organization's budget in donations of over $500,000, and to reward those donations with quarterly advisory board meetings between top donors and the president himself.

Thus, for the right price, you can get instant access inside the White House, far better than the already mediocre, yet apparently too expensive, tour the People's House has historically provided.

It would be naïve to suggest this is merely a political ploy solely limited to the Obama administration. Rather, it represents exactly what is wrong with our American government across the board.

Today in Washington politicians no longer vote for, nor represent, the best interests of their constituents. Rather, they work to appease the super PACS which fund their campaigns. In a society where mass media often control public opinion, one can understand their fear of repercussion from such powerful organizations.

The framers of our Constitution never intended to create such protections for those with enough money to garner such influence, but in light of Citizens United that is the current state of affairs in our government.

Ultimately, such powerful influence will lead to the erosion of our democracy.

Brad Parke of Knott County is a student at the Appalachian School of Law.

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