How Money is Suffocating American Democracy

Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown
Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown
How Money is Suffocating American Democracy
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America exists today as a bizarre anomaly – we profess to be an electoral democracy, yet we are ruled by a governmental plutocracy.

One especially gross example of this incongruity is the overwhelming power of big money over the people’s will. By a wide margin, Americans of all political stripes want to ban the distorting force of huge, electoral campaign donations by favor-seeking corporations and ultra-rich elites. Yet… nothing. National and state lawmakers take the plutocratic money and promptly bury democratic reforms that could stop the gusher of corrupt cash.

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An analysis of donations in this year’s congressional races shows that this plutocratic perversion of our politics and government has reached absurd levels. Historian Nancy McLean and public interest advocate Frank Clemente have documented that the two main SuperPACs trying to put Republicans in Congress got about half of their $188 million election fund from just 27 billionaires. Also, a corporate front that backs GOP candidates, Club for Growth, got nearly $35 million from only three billionaires. Thanks to years of congressional stonewalling and the steady partisan stacking of our top courts with corporate idealogues, there is essentially no limits on this purchase of lawmakers. Indeed, the biggest donors are even allowed to undermine democracy in secret, not revealing their identity.

The money-dealing in politics translates directly into anti-democratic public policies. Lawmakers elected with this money not only support the billionaires’ special-interest agenda (which the people don’t want), but also are fierce opponents of any reforms to increase voter participation in our governing process (which people do want).

That’s why, for example, efforts to guarantee every eligible American a Constitutional right to vote have not moved forward in Congress – even though the great majority of people favor it. It’s a simple political equation: Plutocratic money quashes democratic will, producing plutocratic public policies.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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