How the Money-and-media Election Complex Is Destroying AmericaBook - 2013
Blending vivid reporting from the 2012 campaign trail and deep perspective from decades covering American and international media and politics, political journalist John Nichols and media critic Robert W. McChesney explain how US elections are becoming controlled, predictable enterprises that are managed by a new class of consultants who wield millions of dollars and define our politics as never before. As the money gets bigger--especially after the Citizens United ruling--and journalism, a core check and balance on the government, declines, American citizens are in danger of becoming less informed and more open to manipulation. With groundbreaking behind-the-scenes reporting and staggering new research on "the money power," Dollarocracy shows that this new power does not just endanger electoral politics; it is a challenge to the DNA of American democracy itself.
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Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America by John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney
Anyone who is concerned about the state of our Democracy, given the Citizen's United Decision, our almost record economic inequality, and the decline of the media's ability to keep our citizens accurately informed, must read this book. The writers provide two histories that are very informative. One describes how wealthy individuals and corporations have influenced government policy since the founding fathers (with but a few hiccups of populist effort along the way) at the expense of "we, the people." The other describes how the media has been overtaken by those same two groups, not only by making it nearly impossible for voters to obtain factual information but also by the incessant deluge of ads, phone calls, etc for increasingly lengthy campaign periods, and the increasing number of negative and often false ads have depressed voters to such an extent that they are giving up in participating in the democratic process (see declining voter participation and compare it to Democracies that have taken it upon themselves to shorten campaigns, publicly finance candidates, and provide free air time). $10 Billion were spent on the 2012 elections, including state and local. Campaign donations are considered "investments". The details that are given concerning the 2012 election are gathered together in a way that is truly persuasive of the need to reform our campaign finance system. They discuss, not only the presidential campaign, but also the huge amounts of money funneled to state elections, even going down to the referenda and local judicial elections. The corporate clout is resulting in a reshaping of the political system so that policies that are in any way contrary to the interests of large corporations and wealthy investors have no chance of becoming law. And although there are still a few journalists doing their best to expose the facts, the corporations are also in control of the media, giving the populace little chance to hear the truth. Nichols and McChesney conclude with some optimism. "Dollarocracy is the antithesis of democracy. Wheras democracy has as its purpose the redistribution of power from elites to the great mass of people, Dollarocracy seeks to take the power back for the elites." They believe that the solution involves much more than tinkering around the problems, but a robust response, a broad, popular movement, is necessary for functional reform to be possible. They discuss what this could be like, including an amendment to establish the Right to Vote for all in the Constitution. They also discuss models for campaign finance reform, election reform, and reform for broadcasting networks to include holding stations accountable for the veracity of ads that they broadcast and "free-airtime" requirements. They discuss the message of United Republic that is building a "bold grass roots campaign to get millions of Americans -from Occupy to the Tea Party, actively supporting comprehensive legislation that reshapes American politics". Fortunately, here in NJ Congressional District 12, we have a group that is supporting this effort through Represent.Us and anyone can sign on to be a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act and become an active participant in these efforts to rescue our Democracy from Dollarocracy.
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