What does this mean? To me a few things.
1. What it would take for normally decent people to do something that may be considered wrong
2. How gullible people good be
3. How people don't really care much about politics
4. How little people trust their representatives
Did I prove anything? Of course not. However maybe I can get some people to think
A deliberate loophole I put in the conditions was that it took 15 weeks to get the check. This would be more than enough time for the candidate to become president and pass an executive order to arrest and charge anyone with a felony who tried to cash such a check with voter fraud. Such an executive order could be overturned of course, but it would be an obstacle to getting the money and still obey the rules. It doesn't stop someone from cashing the check, but it would be a deterrent.
Some people pointed out that it's hard to find a candidate that would agree with them 90% of the time. However the unethical nature of this transaction should make people worry about that 10%. That 10% can basically give a person a license to steal (and it's not stealing if it's legal) or pass very unethical laws.
Believe it or not, most positions candidates claim are not that controversial. However we focus on the positions that are questionable. We do wind up agreeing with candidates far more than disagree with them. However the points we can furiously disagree with do matter and can make a huge difference. In the Cold War, presidents were faced with choices that if they handled it badly could mean the end of the world literally. A few bad choices can make a difference. So 90% agreement is not enough for comfort.
One of the conditions I used was they never enact or support laws or policies ... that are clearly against the public good. Very few things are "clear" and an argument can always be made to make something "unclear".
Lessons I hope people learn
1. Don't make a deal with a devil if you can avoid it. A devil is probably smarter than you and even if he's not, he's set the rules and thought out the deal more since he set the terms. It's almost surely a losing bet regardless of the terms or how clever you are.
2. Who is in charge does matter. Bobby Kennedy claimed that during the Cuban Missile crisis that if the wrong person was in charge, there could easily have been a war even if that person was intelligent and had the best intentions. While politics can be extremely frustrating, that doesn't mean we should give up on it.
3. Don't let your greed lead you. The best con people will make you do what they want by dangling a proverbial carrot in front of you.
For all who say this scenario couldn't happen, it's not that far fetched. Bush gained support by giving people $400 tax rebates. That was bribing us with our own money and for the most part it worked. He cut taxes even though we'll have to pay back that money eventually. It was basically a loan that will have to be paid back with interest. It did work to the extent that Bush did gain in popularity and people believed during the 2004 election that Bush would not raise taxes. I can't say if it made the difference, but since the 2004 election was close, one might say it did.
While it's illegal now to overtly buy votes, it still happens in indirect ways. Influence is bought all the time in various ways despite the laws. This is because the people who make the laws are the ones being bought, so they keep loopholes open. When they close loopholes, they open ones people forgot about and this tactic has always worked so far.
Corporations have bought advantages before. It's like buying a lottery ticket that is very very likely to pay off. For money spread around right, they can get favorable legislation passed that can pay off big. It may not always work, but it often has.
One would need about $50 billion to pull this scheme off. Actually if an executive order was passed making the check cashing illegal and the right judges were bought off, then one would need a mere fraction of that. The president has the discretion to funnel off a lot of money and could easily make up this cost if he's clever enough.
If you agreed to sell your vote, it doesn't mean you're dumb or gullible. With the right motivation, we can all make bad choices, no matter how clever or savvy we think we are. The important point is to realize that we can all be easily fooled and to always be aware of that.
Abraham Lincoln said you can't fool all of the people all of the time. In a democracy, you don't need to. You just have to fool a majority of the people some of the time to get your way. Often, you don't even need a majority.