Friday, October 22, 2010

How Special Interests are Killing American Democracy.

Populism may be a threat to democratic systems both in France and in the U.S. but I wonder if the United-States is not under the threat of an even bigger more insidious even greater problem to the American democratic system money spent in political campaign - a problem that has clearly worsened in this campaign for the midterms elections.
Not only is there more money than ever spent by special interest groups on the political campaign (see NBC News or Wash Post), but the identity of the donors can actually remains disclosed as 'nonprofit corporation' -501 (c)4- whose primary purpose is not political can remain anonymous. A first since Watergate!
(The DISCLOSE Act should have been passed by this Congress but of course, it was blocked by Republicans in the Senate, Huffington, The Hill)

Of course, special interests are nothing new in American politics, but these are the first elections since the Supreme Court decided (in Citizens United Vs. FEC) to remove most of the legal limits to special interest spending on political ads in the name of "free speech" in the 1st Amendment, supporting the (crooked) view that corporations are legal persons.
The result is that these is not only that this is the most expensive midterm election in history, but the Democrats are outspent by the Republicans by 3 to 1, according to FEC records (NYTimes) and possibly by 5 to 1, if we are to believe Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (CSMonitor).
In any case, the visible effect is more negative ads with misinformation, distortions and falsehoods. In the front-line is ads funded by the U.S. Chamber and Karl Rove's groups (Wash Post, The Hill).
(Even Forbes Magazine acknowledges that "The Billionaires are Bankrolling the Right".)

Of course, the Democrats may have lose the elections regardless of those ads, and maybe - just maybe - there will be a backlash and people will actually backlash and put public pressure but right now this is not only worrisome, it is also morally wrong and a real threat to democracy.


Abie said...

On a lighter (and more colourful) note, this might interest you :

Jerome, said...

Thank you. Excellent fun blog to read. I may post something on it.