HIGHTOWER: The Money Primary

Voting already is taking place in the 2000 election for President ... only you're not invited to participate. Unless, of course, you can write a check for $1,000 ... or $100,000 ... and up!This is the Money Primary, and not only does it precede next year's New Hampshire primary, but this closed-door, balloting overwhelms all others in importance. You see, to be a major contender for either the Republican or Democratic presidential nominations in 2000, it's calculated that each candidate will have to have amassed a war chest of $25 million by the end of this year. That's roughly $75,000 a day that these presidential wannabes must bank, each and every day of 1999, including Saturdays and Sundays. Miss one day, and your quota doubles to $150,000 for the next day.If you don't raise your $25 million, you're unlikely to be able to compete when the actual voting by us peasants takes place next year. The bottom line is that the big money interests literally decide this year who we get to vote for next year -- and our choices will be limited to those candidates who prove themselves willing to support the policies of big money.Al Gore and Bill Bradley on the Democratic side; George Bush, Elizabeth Dole, John McCain, Danbo Quayle, Lamar Alexander, and others on the Republican side -- all of these will have been vetted by the rich and powerful. The vetting takes place in corporate suites, at penthouse cocktail parties and at exclusive resorts in places like Palm Beach, Florida, where Lamar Alexander and other GOP aspirants recently trekked to strut their stuff in front of business execs who give $100,000 each to be part of this Money Primary. The candidates grovel shamelessly in front of these monied executives in the hope of "stroking dollars" from them.This is Jim Hightower saying ... If you wonder why we don't get candidates who are for the people ... pay attention to who's buying whom in the Money Primary.

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