Brow Beat

John Oliver Breaks Down How Congressional Fundraising Has Turned D.C. Into a Call Center

When we vote for members of Congress, we probably don’t ask ourselves how good they would be at telemarketing, but perhaps we should. As John Oliver explained on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, these politicians can spend up to half of their time raising money for re-election—and even more time than that during the two years before an election. Even Steve Israel, a departing congressman and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Oliver in an interview that the setup is “not what our founders had in mind.”

Politicians on both sides of the aisle hate relentlessly fundraising, but neither is willing to stop this practice first. Still, something must be done, because when asked to raise that much money, the natural strategy is to reach out to rich donors. And, as Oliver notes, “it cannot help but affect the way you see the world if you’re only calling donors rich enough that their main concerns are estate taxes, or which Belgian kimono their cat will wear that day.”