The desire to be re-elected is the root cause of most corruption in politics. The absence of term limits gives office holders an incentive to accept bribes from special interests as a means of retaining office. These bribes take the form of direct campaign donations, donations to their party, or the running of television and radio commercials to influence elections. As Friedrich Hayek observed: “Every small interest group can enforce its demands, not by persuading a majority that the demands are just or equitable, but by threatening to withhold that support which the nucleus of agreed individuals will need to become a majority.” (Law, Legislation and Liberty, Vol. III, 1979.)

Campaign finance reform is useless because it merely addresses the symptom, not the cause. When career politicians are wedged in place, it is near impossible for virtuous candidates to dislodge them. Moreover, the electorate is faced with a stacked deck of candidates, all of who have been compromised by the same special interest groups.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove