“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.’