When Dollars Dictate Democracy

Guest Post by: Caroline Devane, Aspiring Advertising Professional

Dollarocracy by John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney brings light to the current state of our government and details the significant role money plays in shaping it.  With campaign spending and contributions out of control, a huge portion of citizens are being undercut in their efforts to have a voice.

3 Devane imageDemocracy is built on equality. When it comes to elections, there is a sense of inspiring possibility with the useful expression of our individual opinions. Nichols and McChesney said it best when they wrote, “They provide the fleeting moment when we can hope that the person earning minimum wage scrubbing toilets on the graveyard shift has the exact same power as Bill Gates, the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune, or the CEO of Goldman Sachs.”

Yet with the current contortions of our government this notion is less than ideal. The political system operates like a marketplace. Monopolies and duopolies make it almost impossible for competitors to rise up, and if you don’t have the capital you can’t compete in the first place. But the issue here is not about wealth distribution; it’s about the ability to have a say regardless of your resources.

What struck me most about McChesney and Nichols’ presentation was the conclusion.  While the current state of our election process is somewhat depressing, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. Nichols ended the discussion on a positive note, not only encouraging us to bring about change, but more importantly reminding us that we can.

The magnitude of the problems and complexities of the dollarocracy can be overwhelming.  How do you even begin to change a system of government? We may try to convince ourselves that there may be nothing wrong and we can just adapt. Yet as Thomas Paine pointed out in Common Sense, “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”

We don’t want to get caught in this trap. In a true democracy, we the people have the responsibility to speak up when we feel the system is corrupt and promoting inequality.  This is what Americans have always done. Nichols stated that we think everything has gone to hell now, but it’s repeatedly gone to hell over and over again throughout history.  There would not have been any changes in policy or government over the course of American history had there not been people like us recognizing flawed systems and fighting to mitigate them.

Dollarocracy goes beyond detailing the flaws that exist in our democracy. It seeks to open our eyes to the situation so that we aware and motivated, like generations before us, to revolutionize American society.

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