Many wild-eyed democracy extremists say that perhaps the United States of America should not just elect presidents who are direct family members of other presidents. But why?

Not just because the thought of political dynasties makes you vaguely want to throw up. There are other reasons. For example: Bill Clinton, who was the US President, now gives speeches for high fees and runs a charitable organization with his wife, Hillary Clinton, who is running for president. Might there be any potential for companies, foreign governments, and interest groups to use this family network to politely seek influence? I know that it is shocking to even contemplate the idea that a corporation paying Bill Clinton half a million dollars for a half hour speech might have ulterior motives, but we must keep open minds. Here is a very brief rundown of facts from the Wall Street Journal, which took a look at Bill’s speaking career while Hillary was running the State Department:

[During Hillary Clinton’s State Department tenure] more than two dozen companies and groups and one foreign government paid former President Bill Clinton a total of more than $8 million to give speeches around the time they also had matters before Mrs. Clinton’s State Department, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

Fifteen of them also donated a total of between $5 million and $15 million to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the family’s charity, according to foundation disclosures.

Now: it would be rather crude and unsophisticated to equate these mere facts to outright bribery. It would be equally crude and unsophisticated to imagine that Goldman Sachs and UBS and Samsung and the government of Abu Dhabi were pouring dump trucks full of money into the Clinton family’s coffer just for the privilege of hearing Bill free-associate for 20 minutes. It would be most accurate to view all this as a general form of influence-seeking, if a highly regulated and relatively transparent one.

As long as every U.S. citizen can afford to pay Bill Clinton $500K to come give a speech to their book group, we won’t have to worry if political dynasties can warp our democracy. So chill.

[Photo: AP]