It has become quite apparent in today’s society – money buys political influence and that influence is focused on increasing the wealth of this country’s ‘financial elite’ The political engine that powers our democracy is fueled by money. The total spent on the 2016 election, presidential and congressional combined, is estimated to be $6.5 Billion! A campaign for a Senate seat is easily over $10 Million, and a Congressional seat around $2 Million. And these staggering numbers grow every election cycle. In return for large political donations pelicans must offer access and political favors. The money buys legislative and policy favors – certainly not always on a ‘quid – pro – quo’ basis but the underlying understanding of influence is always there. The 2018 tax legislation is a good case in point – a huge increase in public debt in order to shift more wealth to the already wealthy ‘financial elite’.
There is a huge disparity in the distribution of wealth in this country. The financial elite, the 1%, represent ~80% of the nations wealth. And the gap is growing. I would argue that the gap is already so wide that ‘the 1%’ has little to nothing in common with the rest of the citizenry. Most troubling is the fact that their political power parallels the wealth gap. The financial elite seem to be in a class by themselves, and in too many instances a self-serving class. They represent a class of citizens that enjoy a political status that is way beyond the the constitution framers concept of ‘one person, one vote’. This is clearly not government of, for and by the people.
So how do we remedy this? Clearly the potent tool is the vote – votes cast for political representatives that are aware of the threat and that have the political will to work toward more progressive policy. That policy must address the role of money in politics as well as the distribution of wealth in society.