Democracy For Sale

“Our democracy is not supposed to be a tug of war between a couple of billionaires on the left and a couple of billionaires on the right,”

“Our democracy is not supposed to be a tug of war between a couple of billionaires on the left and a couple of billionaires on the right.”

Yes, unfortunately, it is.

As the charts below show, the billionaire class writes big checks to candidates and partisan campaign committees.  Why?  Because they want access to the politicians, once in office, to influence both the legislative agendas and the actual text of laws.

While we have a roughly and anachronistically speaking a “one man, one vote” democracy for elections, that doesn’t mean the output of our republican system of government is representative of the will of the people, because most people don’t have equal access to the candidates and office holders.

Chart - Top Donors 2017-18 - NYT - 2018-04-13.jpeg

Chart - Top Donors part II - 2017-18 - NYT - 2018-04-13

Source: NYT 4/13/18.

See other posts on this topic tagged #campaign finance, and below.

Chart: Campaign Super Donors

I’m shocked, shocked politicians doing the bidding of their campaign contributors

 

 

Hofstadter’s “Paranoid Style in American Politics” still rings true today

Hofstadter identified the political impotence induced paranoia that manifests itself in a segment of Trump voters today.

“In American experience, ethnic and religious conflicts, with their threat of the submergence of whole systems of values, have plainly been the major focus for militant and suspicious minds of this sort, but elsewhere class conflicts have also mobilized such energies. The paranoid tendency is aroused by a confrontation of opposed interests which are (or are felt to be) totally irreconcilable, and thus by nature not susceptible to the normal political processes of bargain and compromise. The situation becomes worse when the representatives of a particular political interest—perhaps because of the very unrealistic and unrealizable nature of their demands—cannot make themselves felt in the political process. Feeling that they have no access to political bargaining or the making of decisions, they find their original conception of the world of power as omnipotent, sinister, and malicious fully confirmed. They see only the consequences of power—and this through distorting lenses—and have little chance to observe its actual machinery.”

It is well worth re-reading Hofstadter’s classic essay, from Harpers Magazine, November 1964. Some excerpts below.

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