Democracy for sale

Bid for the vote of one U.S. citizen, now on eBay!

Published August 17, 2000 7:21PM (EDT)

Looking to stretch your soft money contributions this election season? Are you short a few hundred grand from your ultimate ambition of buying off your very own candidate? Cash-poor campaign contributors, may I redirect your wallets to a new way to exchange dinero for political influence -- buying a single vote at auction. That's right. Right now on eBay you can place your bid for the "Vote of one U.S. Citizen," Item # 410721373.

Currently bidding at $10,100.00, this little nugget of the 2000 election is offered by a registered voter of the great state of Maryland. The seller, identified only by the suitable pseudonym "apragmatic," offers not just his or her vote in the presidential election, but in "all other elections in my district, by name or by party" on the November 2000 ballot. Listed for auction just this Tuesday, already 20 bids have been made. Don't delay. Only eight more days to raise your virtual paddle to extend your political influence. This innovative auction ends Aug. 25 at 2:23 p.m. and 20 seconds PDT.

Buying a single vote may seem like a small gesture, but if you can't afford to shell out for your own political office or candidate, at least this way you can purchase a bit more influence into who represents you, and the people of Maryland. And isn't it every citizen's right to use their vote as they see fit -- even if that means selling it off to the highest bidder? As the description of the vote for sale enthuses: "Why should the American Citizen be left out? Congressmen and Senators regularly sell THEIR votes to the highest bidder. Democracy for sale!"

Are you listening, Al "I-invented-the-Internet" Gore and George WWW Bush? As each of the major parties' presidential candidates wheedles to prove his swaggering Net-savvy, what better gesture could there be than casting a bid of his own at this auction? Surely it would help with fundraising in Silicon Valley, if only to show those Net moguls that you really "grok" their "medium" -- money.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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