Do We Have a Democracy?
With the election just passed, my friends and I are had attended several debates—and although we submitted the same question repeatedly, it rarely got asked. This is ironic, since our question is what will be done to restore our democracy. Yet, this doesn’t surprise us--most New Hampshirites know America no longer has a government that answers to its People.
A Princeton study proved it: America is no longer a democracy, but a plutocracy—rule by the wealthy elite. The study demonstrated definitively that policies end up reflecting the wishes of the tiny fraction of the country that makes substantial political contributions—not of the voters.
We already suspected this. Ninety-six percent of Americans want to reduce the influence of money in politics. We feel that our legislators care only about their donors, who they spend 70% of their time courting—even if their donors are not constituents, or now thanks to superPACs, even outside the country, effectively. Election spending is higher than ever because legislators are for-sale more than ever.
So my friends want to ask candidates what will be done about it. Our question is overlooked because moderators have a hot-topic agenda—things like healthcare, national security, spending, the environment, and net neutrality, for example. But these issues, and many more, come back to this: industries that invest in candidates in order to get profitable policies.
We cannot make healthcare policies that benefit everyone, rein-in spending, or ensure an open internet—as long as most political contributions come from the corporations that profit from expensive insurance plans, receiving government giveaways, or monopolizing information access.
We learn in school that democracy dies without a well-informed public. So it is incumbent upon the “fourth branch”—the press—to show people, who already sense the corruption of money-politics, that how we conduct elections is at the heart of every other issue. The press must stress that business should mind its business—which is making profit within the confines of the law—and remind us that it is the business of the citizenry alone, according to the Constitution, to direct the making of law.