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United States The Almighty Buck

Politicians For Sale... On Amazon 425

Posted by michael
from the own-them-all dept.
aldheorte writes "In either a brilliant move or a sick commentary on politics (or both), Amazon is now selling U.S. Presidential candidates, or at least contributions to such."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Politicians For Sale... On Amazon

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  • by hendridm (302246) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:03PM (#8070942) Homepage

    I can't decide between the serial killer [amazon.com] and the dear hunter [amazon.com]. Or maybe I'll just take a gamble [amazon.com] this year...

    • That guy's more of a deer hunter. If you want someone who hunts his dears, you'd go for this guy. [cnn.com]
    • I think that I'll vote for Senator Palpatine [joe2004.com]. At least we know where he stands.
    • by FreshFunk510 (526493) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:50PM (#8071319)
      Speaking of which, does this [amazon.com] pictures look like it was taken through a sniper scope? It looks like someones about to off him.
    • Gave $5 to Clark. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Axe (11122) on Friday January 23, 2004 @07:04PM (#8071456)
      Just want to see what happens: how many solicitation for donations I will receive. That will test how much do they sell my personal information.
    • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Friday January 23, 2004 @07:05PM (#8071462) Homepage
      I can't decide between the serial killer

      You exagerate, or you are confusing LaRouche with Charles Manson. LaRouche was jailed for 15 years for fraud and tax evasion in 1988. He has been out on parole since 1993. I guess that the sentence probably expired completely last year (parole can extend longer than the original sentence).

      Amazon don't state the basis that they used to compile the list of candidates. Each election there are a couple of thousand people who file for president, so there has to be a cut-off at some point. Probably sending reports to the SEC.

      Its interesting the way that folk imediately translate dollars into votes. The fact that someone gives money to a campaign does not even mean they want them to be elected. Plenty of candidates in primaries get dollars from the other party, say there is a guy standing for re-election, folk will send dollars to a challenger in the primaries to help make it a rougher ride. I met a Democrat who freely admitted that 80% of his campaign dollars came from Republicans.

      The big issue in this campaign has been whether the Democrats would run the type of pusilanimous campaign that Gephart ran with in the mid-sessionals. Under that strategy the party would nominate 'Bush-Lite' - Lieberman or Gephart, someone who would not criticize the invasion of Iraq, someone who would basically roll over when the GOP press did their smear campaign.

      At this point Dean has made sure that whoever gets the nomination it will not be Gephart or Lieberman. Bush is going to be criticized on his record. Unfortunally for the poor Deaniacs they are now dispensible. We know full well that they will organize and vote for any Democrat candidate against Bush, except Lieberman that is.

      At this point I don't think anyone can say with confidence who the winner of the nomination will be. I think Kerry, Clark and Edwards all have a chance, Dean might recover. One thing I am sure of is that Edwards is the most likely choice for Veep. I don't think Clark or Kerry would even want it - Clark would almost certainly prefer Secretary of State. But Edwards is one heck of a smooth speaker, unfortunately the poor chump does not really have enough of a Resume to run. Last time that a guy with as little experience as he did became President was 2000 - and the results show it.

      • by nebaz (453974)
        LaRouche was jailed for 15 years for fraud and tax evasion in 1988. He has been out on parole since 1993. I guess that the sentence probably expired completely last year (parole can extend longer than the original sentence).

        Isn't it interesting that if you commit a felony (which I assume that this is, as a 15 year sentence is nothing to sneeze at), you can still run for president, but in several states (PDF, sorry [sentencingproject.org]) can't vote for president, even after parolled. Kind of like how 21 year olds can buy beer,
      • by the gnat (153162) on Friday January 23, 2004 @08:42PM (#8072187)
        You exagerate, or you are confusing LaRouche with Charles Manson.

        From what I've read about LaRouche, the idea of him as president is almost as scary as Manson as president. The guy is completely apeshit. I've seen a lot of his cultists around the Bay area; until I moved here, I thought he was pretty much defunct.

        Under that strategy the party would nominate 'Bush-Lite'

        Careful there. Ignoring the war issue for a moment (although there were many liberals who supported it, at least in principle, Clinton being the best example), this sounds a lot like an echo of Ralph Nader's preposterous claim in 2000 that there was no substantive difference between the Dems and the GOP. We've all seen how well that prediction turned out, havent' we? Ralph was just bitter because moderate neoliberal Democrats like Clinton didn't share his antipathy towards capitalism.

        At any rate, either of those candidates would have been capable of criticizing Bush on his record - and might have been better insulated against the inevitable RNC smear that they don't care about national security. (Note: I don't think this is a good reason for them to be president, however, nor do I support either candidate, although Lieberman's politics are closest to mine.) Personally, I would like to see a Democrat attack Bush from the right, and point out that we haven't yet captured bin Laden (but started another war anyway), he's ramped up the deficits, and the size of government (and spending) has actually expanded under Republican rule.
        • At any rate, either of those candidates would have been capable of criticizing Bush on his record - and might have been better insulated against the inevitable RNC smear that they don't care about national security.

          Rove belted Gephart silly in the mid sessionals. And as for Lieberman his sanctimonious attitude is as sickening as Bush.

          You don't have to agree with Nader to realise that the quality of the candidate matters as much as the platform. The problem with Lieberman is that he has assiduously engag

  • by OctaneZ (73357) <ben-slashdot2@NoSpAM.uma.litech.org> on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:03PM (#8070944) Journal
    I can't wait til I can donate my $200 to Al Hamburg [amazon.com]! and with only One-Click no less! Boy, a grumpy 72 year old man is just what this country needs!
  • Numbers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mpost4 (115369) *
    I would like to see the numbers at the end of the year. I would like to see who got how much and a break down of who is generaly intested in what contributied to who, and location.
  • by inertia@yahoo.com (156602) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:04PM (#8070956) Homepage Journal
    It appears that this aspect of Amazon is not offered to it's associates. At least, not that I could tell, and I really looked. ;-) Oh well.

    Then again, I don't see how it could be profitable to offer this through their associate program without taking it off the top, which isn't in the best interest of the candidate.
  • Contibutions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:05PM (#8070962) Homepage Journal
    aldheorte writes "In either a brilliant move or a sick commentary on politics (or both), Amazon is now selling U.S. Presidential candidates, or at least contributions to such."

    Well, I suppose if you were completely cynical this is how one might view this, but to me, this is a great way to make political contributions, because this is about making contributions to your politician of choice.

    However, I would prefer to see an Internet based voting system that gets rid of the electoral college system....

    • by SkArcher (676201) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:16PM (#8071073) Journal
      If it was a really sick commentary on Politics, they'd be selling them on eBay [ebay.com]
    • by BJH (11355)
      However, I would prefer to see an Internet based voting system that gets rid of the electoral college system....

      Well, you could always use Amazon's Sales Rank... ;)

    • However, I would prefer to see an Internet based voting system that gets rid of the electoral college system.... Dear god help us all. Have you studied why the electoral college was put in? It was to keep the last say from riding in the hands of ignorant commoners like ourselves. Think what the world would be like if we didn't have the upper classes to check and veto all our decisions. Then we might have a true government of the people rather than an illusion of one.

      But then again I'm not really fond

      • Re:Contibutions (Score:5, Informative)

        by b-baggins (610215) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:56PM (#8071369) Journal
        Um, the electoral college was put in because STATES elect the President, not the people.

        Theoretically, at least, we're a federal republic.

        BTW, Jefferson and a number of the other founding fathers were terrified of pure democracy, considering it, rightly so, to be nothing more than mob rule.
        • Re:Contibutions (Score:3, Interesting)

          by k_187 (61692)
          FYI, Jefferson was very much in support of direct democracy, just on a much smaller scale than even the original 13 states. Make all the people in a small area make the decisions. Which is why he was called an Anti-Federalist. Madison and the Federalists pretty much set up the system we have today. And he was afraid of mob rule, which is why we have the electoral college. So otherwise, you're spot on.
    • Re:Contibutions (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Purificator (462832) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:49PM (#8071310) Homepage
      yeah, i don't see the down side for this. the site basically says it's for small (below $200) donations, which isn't going to buy you ANY influence. it just makes it easier for normal people to give candidates money.

      people should save their cynicism for corporate/special interest soft money and lobbying (you know, the things that ACTUALLY buy off candidates). really, if candidates got all enough money through small, distributed, contributions then they wouldn't have to sell themselves to bigger contributers who could want favors in return.

      you know, since campaign funds translate into votes (funds buying ads and all), this is pretty close to an internet voting system --plus it's got more security to it than any of the real electronic voting systems i've read about.
  • by glinden (56181) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:05PM (#8070963) Homepage Journal
    Amazon takes a cut of these payments. You'd be better off giving directly to the campaigns.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:05PM (#8070965)


    The politicians have been selling themselves since forever.

    Arguably they're just a sub-specialization of the World's Oldest Profession.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:06PM (#8070969)
    There's a president of the United States now?

    This is all too much for me to handle!
  • by junkymailbox (731309) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:06PM (#8070972)
    Amazon's privacy policy [amazon.com]
    "We release account and other personal information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law; enforce or apply our Conditions of Use and other agreements; or protect the rights, property, or safety of Amazon.com, our users, or others.
  • Not quite yet (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chris_Jefferson (581445) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:06PM (#8070973) Homepage
    If you actually look at the candidates, most say that amazon is currently asking for permission to accept donations. Looks like they may have launched this a little too early...
  • by grasshoppa (657393) * <skennedy.tpno-co@org> on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:07PM (#8070980) Homepage
    I've been begging them for an easy method for buying a Politician, and here we go. Corporations shouldn't be the only ones with all the fun.

    Now, I hope they get around to the second part of my suggestion: Judges.
  • Here's Who's Ahead (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MissMarvel (723385)
    This is interesting, sort of a capitalist's popularity contest.

    Here are the standings between the top 4 Democratic contenders:

    Dean $385 from 33 contributions for an average of $11.67 per contribution

    Clark $545 from 34 contributions for an average of $16.02 per contribution

    Kerry $964 from 27 contributions for an average of $35.70 per contribution

    Edwards $475 from 18 contributions for an average of $26.39 per contribution

    Gee, Bush doesn't have any contributions. Surprise, Surprise!
    • Of coure Bush would not get in the "top 4 Democratic contenders" here why and it might be a big suprise he is a Republican. He has as much of a chance of getting in that group that Dean has of getting in the Republicans top 4, it just not going to happen
    • by dublisk (456374) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:16PM (#8071077) Homepage
      Gee, Bush doesn't have any contributions. Surprise, Surprise!

      If you had read the FAQ on amazon you would see:

      Why can't I contribute to the Bush or Lieberman campaigns yet?
      It's up to each campaign to decide if and when they want to participate. We have invited each of these campaigns to participate and we're hopeful that they'll come on board in the near future. Meanwhile, we have posted information about each candidate and his campaign, and we've provided a link to the candidates' campaign Web sites where you can make a contribution.
    • They're not accepting donations for Bush.

      If you want a laugh, take a look at the Sharpton page.

      $20 from 4 contributions. $5 (which is the minimum alowed) per contribution.
    • Note that you can't submit contributions to Bush via Amazon. They have a sidebar stating just exactly that.

      I, however, am impressed that Clark received more contributions than Dean. Maybe he stands a chance after all, and maybe I'll have the opportunity to actually vote for my favorite candidate. Rock on.
    • bush doesn't need any more money. In any case I'm waiting for it to go up on Ebay... I wonder if I buy my contribution at $10 today can I auction it off later at $200 right before the primaries are finalized?

    • Where'd you get this info?
    • by mandalayx (674042) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:51PM (#8071321) Journal
      The Libertarian guy is currently leading, which is interesting.

      Nolan [amazon.com]
    • by be-fan (61476)
      That's not an entirely accurate standing, because Clarck and Kerry have had the pages up since the 16th of January, and Dean and Edwards have had them up since the 22nd.

      And Bush isn't accepting donations yet, so it doesn't matter.
  • Lyndon LaRouche is a Democrat? Since when?
  • by CrankyFool (680025) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:08PM (#8070997)
    I want:
    A) "Other Amazon Shoppers who contributed to Howard Dean also purchased..."
    B) One-click ordering
  • But it used (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:08PM (#8070999)
    I'll just wait a while and then click on the "Buy It Used" button.
  • Dean (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frizzle Fry (149026) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:09PM (#8071012) Homepage
    From their page on Howard Dean:

    Current Job: Former governor of Vermont
    Prior Job(s): Vermont state representative, Vermont lieutenant governor, medical doctor

    How is "former governor" a current job? Given that he is no longer governor, wouldn't it make more sense to list governor as a prior job?
  • Umm.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aussersterne (212916) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:10PM (#8071022) Homepage
    All I see is Libertarian, Republican and Democrat. Where are the other parties? Green? Socialist Workers? Communist? Or any of those lesser-known parties on the right that I'm not familiar with but know are there because of their stench?

    It seems a shame to create a potentially "democratic" contribution system like this wherein all the candidates appear side by side, yet return in the end to the flawed two-party (or at most three-party) set of limited choices...
    • Duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by toupsie (88295) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:20PM (#8071104) Homepage
      All I see is Libertarian, Republican and Democrat. Where are the other parties? Green? Socialist Workers? Communist?

      You have got to be kidding! Greens, Socialist Workers and Communist are ANTI-CAPITALISTS! Signing up with the biggest online capitalist tool would be make them look silly and go completely against their political beliefs.

  • Clue to aldheorte: Campaign contributions have been a part of the democratic process for about as long as democracy has been around.

    I don't see how Amazon facilitating a higher-efficiency method of contributing somehow changes a standard adjunct of democracy into something that is "sick".

    • The reason that some might find this sick is that money should probably not have anywhere near the effect on elections as it currently does.

      A group or individual that contributed a greater amount of money to a campaign tends to be favored over those who may have voted for a given canidate, but did not actually throw any money into the campaign.

      It basically puts a spotlight on how politicians prostitute out thier influence for cash and encourages that sort of behaviour.

      END COMMUNICATION
    • The difference is symbollic. This gives the appearance of crass commercialization of politics, whether or not helping to enable more people to donate smaller amounts actually supports that. The clear subtext here is that politics is now a sub-category of capitalism and candidates are up for sale in an online shopping mall. The ever implicit connection through history is now made explicit.
  • I mean, Senators seem to be much Cheaper [pcworld.com] these days.
    I'd take 2 or 3 of those over a President any day....
  • Ratings? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jdunlevy (187745) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:12PM (#8071045) Homepage
    What, no option to "RATE THIS CANDIDATE"? No Customer Reviews? No "6 people recommended Howard Dean instead of Dennis J. Kucinich"? No "1 person recommended Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. in addition to Howard Dean"? ...
  • by thedbp (443047) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:12PM (#8071046)
    Sure, it seems really cheesy and horrible to be able to "purchase" your candidate online, but at the same time, it give equal screen space to people like Dubya, Sharpton, and... holy cow, who is this?

    Al Hamburg? [amazon.com]

    Divroced with 9 kids. Self educated ... by reading. This guy's got MY dollar AND my vote! God bless the democratic process!
  • I like this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cranky_92109 (414726) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:14PM (#8071060)
    Be as cynical as you like, we all know it takes money to run for any public office. Amazon has put up a page with all the candidates, many of which I have never heard of, and it has a little biography and overview of their politics. From there you can donate a small amount of cash, $200 or less.

    Maybe this will help educate some people on the lesser known candidates and help even the playing field a tiny bit for those candidates who don't have a lot of cash.
  • If they really want to make a sick commentary and make a killing... they should let the average citizen sign up and sell their votes.

    You could categorize citizens by profession, perceived clout, public esteem, thugability, mindshare... and Joe Sleeze^H^H^H^H^H^politician would simplly just purchase an entire class or subset of society to back his personal agenda!

    Myself, classified as the Thorouglhy Mindfugged But Zealously Insane... I figure my own vote should be worth enough to elimate any moral qualms

  • It would be cooler if I could hear the "I have a scream" AAIIIIEEEEEHHH every time I gave Howard Dean a buck! I'd be there all day! Are you listening Howard?

  • by hardaker (32597) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:19PM (#8071096) Homepage
    ... for Amazon.

    These guys are smart, you have to admit. They've convienced you, the nice citizen, to pony up some dough and help fund a senator. You know the next thing they're going to do is go to the senator and say "See how much money we raised for you? See how nice we've been to you? Now... Let's talk about patents for a moment..."

  • The title as I type this is "Politicans For Sale... On Amazon" [sic].

    I wrote an RSS-to-festival script in Perl a while back. Just now I heard it read "Politi cans..." from the next room.

    You know it's pretty bad when you can find typos on Slashdot, and you're not even looking!

  • by Arcanix (140337) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:31PM (#8071199)
    Can you get your money back if the candidate turns out to be defective?
  • Before everyone goes off about democracy this and that, one thing should be made clear. The United States of America is not - I repeat, NOT - a Democratic nation. It is a Constitutional Republic. There is a small but significant difference.

    Also, our econimic system - for those of you who don't know - is commonly known as Capitolism. Such is the nature of a capitolist economy that the government, in order to function effectively, must operate as a business. They offer services - courts, police, etc. - and
    • Also, our econimic system - for those of you who don't know - is commonly known as Capitolism.
      ---
      Its even *more* commonly known as capitalism. Beyond that, the United States preaches capitalism, but does not practice it. If it did, we would not have so many protectionist laws fouling up our legal books. A Republican president, someone who in theory believes in allowing the free market to do its work, recently passed (and later had to retract) a tarrif on steel! That goes against the recommendations of a maj
  • Is Amazon.com getting paid to do this?
    U.S. federal law prohibits us from donating services to any or all presidential campaigns, so we are charging the campaigns our usual and normal Amazon.com Payments fee.
    On a less capitalistic note, the answer continues:
    We've also decided that we'll eventually contribute the aggregate amount we're paid in fees to Kids Voting USA, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, national organization that works with schools and communities to enhance civics education and provide youth an authentic voting experience.
  • Libertarian (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Teppy (105859) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:41PM (#8071251) Homepage
    Interesting that Gary Nolan has raised more money and has a higher average contribution than Dean, Edwards, Clark, and (almost) Kerry.
  • by JRHelgeson (576325) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:41PM (#8071253) Homepage Journal
    If I contribute over $25, does that qualify for FREE Super Saver Shipping?
  • by starm_ (573321) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:55PM (#8071364)
    I wonder if they accept donations from people outside of the United-States. I know a lot of people that think the current administration is a menace to the world and I think some of them would even be willing to pay to help its competitors.
    It would be an interesting phenomenon if it ever happens.
    • Only if you're a Democrat. You may then donate if you are from any of the following nations:

      France
      Germany
      Canada
      Communist China

      You may also donate if you are any buddhist monastery.

      Communist China is the preferred donor, because they will give you big bucks in exchange for a few little US technology factoids, and they are very good at laundering the money (ooh, a racist joke!)
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @01:42AM (#8073470) Homepage
    • $5. Added to campaign mailing list.
    • $50. Called back by telemarketer.
    • $500. Called back by junior campaign staffer.
    • $5,000. Called back by senior campaign staffer. Invitation to minor Bush campaign event.
    • $50,000. Called back by Cabinet member. VIP invitation to major Bush campaign events.
    • $500,000. Bush calls you back and thanks you. Invitation to major event at White House.
    • $5,000,000. Karl Rove calls you back, finds out what you want, and makes it happen.
  • by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet@hotm a i l .com> on Saturday January 24, 2004 @09:52AM (#8074742) Journal
    Did anyone else notice the following quote at the bottom of their comment pages this morning?

    "I don't care who does the electing as long as I get to do the nominating." -- Boss Tweed

    Ah, delicious.

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