Danielle Brian on Legalized Corruption

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Forget about the Machiavellian drama that plays out in the hit series The House of Cards, if you really want to be educated (or frightened) about what goes on in the nation’s capital, just let everything you read in Mike Lofgren’s essay sink in.

We don’t need fictional Frank Underwoods to tell us that Washington is rotten at its core. That’s because, as is often the case, the truth is much scarier than fiction.

With the skill of a prosecutor, Lofgren shines a light on the secret web of influence-peddling that spreads far and wide beneath the surface of our democracy.

The ideological gridlock that grips Congress might make you angry. But as Lofgren points in his professorial manner, what should really get your blood pumping are the strings being pulled by the real decision makers: the executives on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley and in the military-intelligence industrial complex surrounding the Beltway.

The really creepy part is that a lot of this corruption (the revolving doors, lobbying activities and campaign contributions, for instance) is legal. Mull that over: We’ve passed laws allowing the “Deep State” to not only exist, but also to flourish.

For many of the 300-plus million people who live outside of the Beltway, their view of Washington is likely colored by the endless bickering between our political leaders.

Sadly, focusing on the sound bites and talking points conveniently distracts us from focusing on the biggest threat to our democracy and civil liberties — the Deep State and all its terrible tentacles.