The 2016 Presidential Elections and the Cost of Democracy


“Money has corrupted our political process,” writes law school professor Lawrence Lessig in the Harvard Gazette. Frankly speaking, money speaks  the language of power   and control in American  politics, as oligarchs  continue  to  swindle Americans  out of  a  fair ballot. Thus, it is clear, that the democratic narrative is lost in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Whereas research documents that more than $10 billion could be spent by candidates, parties and outside groups on the2016 presidential campaign, analysis by The New York  Times shows fewer than 400 families are responsible for almost half the money raised to date.

Indisputably, money is creating an imbalanced playing field in American politics.
Beyond the pointed reasoning that “campaign finance makes democracy less equal and representative,” the actions of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump further   corrodes the Democratic narrative.

The claim that “Democracy is a system of governance that features guaranteed civil rights, the rule of law and accountability to voters” stands too much criticism. It is here that  the  light  also shines  on the actions  of the  U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens  United  vs. Federal  Election Commission ruling campaign finance laws. Maybe the notion that “political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections” need to be re-examined; but the growing indifference, cynicism and vitriol of presidential candidates   cannot go by unnoticed.

Although it is  true that campaign finance is part of the normal workings of democratic life, it must also  be seen that Democracy cannot truly convey  it’s  heralded  theme  of  justice and  liberty  for all of its citizens, if half of the population remain underrepresented in the political arena because  of socio-economic  status.  Democracy cannot  fulfil the  will of the people if the  rich continue to seize the power  of the  electorate  and replace  civil liberties and  social  justice with   political  expenditures.

Whereas  proponents  agree  that  “Trump is merely a natural  extension of the mainstream rhetorical and policy framework  of  the resentments and hatreds of the elites,” attention  must  also be directed at  the way in which democracy is creating tribalism and  conflict in  American  thought and reasoning, in contrast to its undertaken bent  of  unity and freedom in the  political process.

If  money  continues to wreak momentous representations  on the democratic process, then  how can  America boast  itself as the mother of all democracies when  there is  fear, intimidation, and dysfunctional political polarization that continues  to disturb the social  order?

How can developing countries regard democracy as the ideal form of government when presidential candidates preach bigotry, sexism and xenophobia?

More obvious is the fact that presidential elections   are a fundamental human right and the ability of citizens to exercise civil and political rights. Elections  within the  portals  of a democracy provides  the means for managing the impends of violent conflict and   for advancing human security, but the  increasing  political  power that the   rich  exerts    in the American political process is causing growing social segregation, and invoking  a  culture  of fear and a politics of repudiation as  paranoia  continues  to triumph over reason.

While Republican reverence at the altar of the constitution, the pervasive conjecture that we live in a democracy seems very far from reality. Protecting the ‘free speech of money’ under the constitution is muddying the waters of human rights and democracy.

If political power must be returned to the citizenry, then it is imperative that legislations must be enacted   to protect the integrity and transparency of federal elections in the democratic process.

For the moral importance of democracy is not the language of money but the ‘Will of the People.’


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