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posted by Satyam Kaswala in Politics

Democracy for sale?

October 26, 2012

$2 billion. That's how much money has been flooded into this year's presidential election. This is the most expensive U.S. campaign ever.

CNBC breaks down the groups that have contributed most to each candidate:

"Wall Street has invested more heavily in Mr. Romney, a former financier who has pledged to repeal Mr. Obama’s new financial regulations, than in any presidential candidate in memory. Employees of financial firms had given more than $18 million dollars to Mr. Romney’s campaign through the end of September and tens of millions more to the “super PACs” supporting him."

"The technology industry has donated about $14 million to the president and the Democrats, substantially more than in 2008. Retirees, the biggest single source of money for both sides, have given the Democrats much more than they did four years ago, as have employees of women’s groups, retailers and hospitals and nursing homes."

But here's the thing: That $2 billion figure does not include the untold hundreds of millions of dollars super PACs have poured into the campaigns. Of course, thanks to 2010's disastrous Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission decision, corporations can give unlimited amounts of money to any candidate while hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. The decision effectively lifted the essential campaign finance oversight and transparency that kept your voice mattering.

Policies seem to be bought and sold to the highest bidder in an unprecendented way. Money in politics is an extreme threat to our democracy, regardless of political stances.

As the incomporable Bill Moyers writes in a piece that should be required reading, "This was not meant to be. America was not intended to be a winner-take-all country. Our system of checks and balances -- read The Federalist Papers -- was to keep an equilibrium in how power works and for whom. Because of the vast sums of money buying up our politics, those checks and balances are fast disappearing and time is against us."

He continues:

"Does this money really matter? Do owls and bats fly by night? Needed reforms are dead on arrival on the floor of Senate and House. Banking regulations with teeth? Mortgage relief? Non-starters when the banks' lobbyists virtually own Washington and the President of the United States tells Wall Street financiers he is all that stands between them and the pitchforks of an angry mob. Action on global warming? Not while the fossil fuel industries and corporate-back climate deniers have their powerful say in the matter. Cutting bloated military expenditures? Uh-uh, when it means facing a barrage of scare stories about weakening our defenses against terrorism. Spend money on modernizing our rail system or creating more public transportation in our auto-choked city streets? What heavy artillery the auto, gasoline and highway construction lobbies would rain down on any such proposal."
 

What are your thoughts on the idea that money is corrupting our politics in an unprecendent way?

How do you feel about the expenses involved in this election?

How has the Citizens United decision affected the country?

Do you feel like your voice matters?

What can we do to address this problem both as a society or individually? What's the solution?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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