Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Democracy in the US: a pale shadow of its former self thanks to the Bush Supreme Court ... by gimleteye

The Sunlight Foundation details the impact of the Bush Supreme Court's Citizen United decision, with a startling analysis of money in politics:

"More than a quarter of the nearly $6 billion in contributions from identifiable sources in the last campaign cycle came from just 31,385 individuals, a number equal to one ten-thousandth of the U.S. population.

In the first presidential election cycle since the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, candidates got more money from a smaller percentage of the population than any year for which we have data, a new analysis of 2012 campaign finance giving by the Sunlight Foundation shows. These donors contributed 28.1 percent of all individual contributions in the 2012 cycle, a record high.

One sign of the reach of this elite “1% of the 1%”: Not a single member of the House or Senate elected last year won without financial assistance from this group. Money from the nation’s 31,385 biggest givers found its way into the coffers of every successful congressional candidate. And 84 percent of those elected in 2012 took more money from these 1% of the 1% donors than they did from all of their small donors (individuals who gave $200 or less) combined."

Tellingly, the Sunlight Foundation analysis does not penetrate the Dark Money that is not only infiltrating democracy at the level of Congress, but also penetrating through state to local campaigns.

We've been asking the question often, lately: why do voters tolerate the status quo?

The answer is partly in the new Gallup poll, released a few days ago, where do Americans get their news? Atlantic summarizes: "On a relative basis, Republicans are more likely than independents or Democrats to say their main source of news is television. At the same time, independents rely the most of the three groups on the Internet, while Democrats put the most emphasis on print." Fox News is the clear driver of conservative TV viewing, with no other television media commanding anywhere close to the brand loyalty of Republicans to Fox.

Sunlight astutely observes the role of big money in polarization of Congress through statistical analyses: "... 1% of the 1% money appears to reward conservative Republicans as compared to moderate Republicans. And it may slightly reward moderate Democrats as compared to liberal Democrats."

This is consistent with the surveys conducted by political scientists Benjamin Page, Larry Bartels and Jason Seawright, who find that very wealthy Americans tend to prefer significantly less government spending and economic intervention than the population at large. Limited government and low taxes are hallmarks of conservatism in American politics.

Given the ever-increasing costs of elections, candidates who can raise large sums of money from wealthy donors stand an advantage over those who can’t. Since big Republican donors appear to prefer conservative over moderate Republicans, it encourages Republicans to move in a more conservative direction. The prediction, then, is that as 1% of the 1% donors become more important as the costs of elections climb ever higher, Republicans will become even more conservative, especially on economic issues. As for Democrats, the prediction is that they will be rewarded for becoming slightly more moderate. Time will tell."

Evaluating the outcomes in the United States in recent decades, it is no surprise that special interest money is pushing the nation in conservative directions that do not comport with the interest of most Americans. In fact, only a tiny percentage of American wage earners have benefited from the vast income disparity that opened wider and wider during this time.

Tellingly, conservatives react to such observations as "class warfare"; a neat aspersion that is simplistic, repeatable, and fits neatly into television sound bites that largely reinforce the conservative status quo defending the 1 percent of the 1 percent.

The Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves.

1 comment:

The DEMOBLICAN said...

OBAMA"s Peeps seem to be OK with it to.