US Presidential elections, money rhetorics and voting power
The big wheel of the US presidential elections oiled by money and rhetorics convince voters to vote against their own interests.
As the US election roller coaster gathers momentum, the question of candidate funding rears its ugly head again. You will have to be an out and out hypocrite not to admit, as George Clooney did, that paying $350,000 dollars to be a co-chair at a Hillary Clinton fundraiser event was truly obscene, ‘. . . it is ridiculous, he said, ‘that we should have this kind of money in politics’. But so it is. People go to the polls and vote, and figures show that the party that outspends its opponent wins 95% of the time.*
As it turns out, less than 1% of Americans donate 68% of all election funding.* It is not news to learn that there is something in it for the lucky 1%, they get to help lawmakers make laws that benefit them and their friends. Who can blame them? They paid to play. For instance, those monied people with vested interest paid $5.6m to oppose a bill that would have enacted stricter laws regulating gun ownership, while on the other side, the supporters of the bill donated only $240,000 to support it, we know how that played out. What then is to be done?
The American Anti-Corruption Act
We are told The American Anti-Corruption Act if passed, would reverse this trend. It promises to deliver an overhaul of the lobbying and ethics laws, to increase transparency on all political monies, limit lobbyists’ donations and grant democracy credits to ordinary Americans to offset the influence of the 1%. The democracy credit will enable voters to contribute to qualified potential candidates, parties and committees, which will tip the balance away from the 1% and buy back America from the hands of the rich.
But will the democracy credit wrest control from the hands of the 1%? There are two things to consider – first, the Act has to be passed, and how much will depend on the funding from both sides of the argument, will become evident in time.
So let’s say we get past that and we indeed get the Act, the second issue to consider is how the voters will spend their democracy credit. Will it change anything? Big money goes to one main purpose: paying for big rhetoric. Big money helps candidates/parties put out rhetoric that turn the voters to issues that are close to their hearts: religion, morality, homosexuality, abortion etc., and not their pocket books.
How will people spend their democracy credit?
So the poor, the homeless, the working class, the lower working class, follow Trump because ‘self-funding’ Trump speaks to their heart when he tells them that immigrants, immigration and all Muslims of the world are to blame for all their joblessness, and their woeful existence. We know where they will spend their democracy credit when it is doled out to them.
And in the Clinton camp, the big money is helping Clinton to reach out to her Black and Hispanic voters to encourage them to look the other way and not ask her about the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act which helped to double extreme poverty and ushered in unprecedented increase in the number of American living below the poverty line.
Original article published in The European Financial Review on April 1 2016.