Democracy is Dead: The US Election

Lucia Wagner

In the last few months, the world has been faced with the classic car-wreck analogy, unfolding before our eyes. We are exasperated and can’t bring ourselves to watch the clown-car political process unfold, yet we cannot tear our eyes away- all the while we are equally horrified. The US election season monopolizes the news and through every media outlet we are constantly assaulted by the fake-tanned, orange comb-overed joke that is Donald Trump. I must preface this with a disclaimer: I am an unabashed, unashamed Bernie supporter, but I will let the facts speak for themselves.

In my opinion, Donald Trump presents far less of a threat to the institution of freedom than the crumbling democracy that has characterised the last two Presidential administrations. The fact is, on both sides of the party line we are seeing the dismantling of democracy and the backlash this presents. The meteoric rise of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump highlights the anger of the American people at the establishment chokehold on the political system that has, in the last 15 years, dragged the country into two wars and sunk the economy, both with repercussions that were felt all over the world, and will continue to be made apparent for decades to come.

Democracy, whose etymology comes from the greek ‘demokratia’, ‘demos’ meaning ‘the people’ and ‘kratia’ meaning ‘rule’, is a concept enshrined in the foundations of America.  However, the immortal words of the Constitution, which declared a ‘government of the people, by the people’, have been usurped into a government not by the many, but of the money. The truth of the matter is politicians beg for money, and SuperPACs run the show.  When Citizens United was passed in 2009, the Supreme Court declared that the Constitution prohibited the US government from restricting the independent political expenditures of corporations.

But unlimited campaign contributions have completely reshaped the political landscape of the United States. The reality is SuperPacs don’t contribute millions of dollars to a politician for their health; the key question to ask is, who is benefitting? So when Hillary Clinton receives huge campaign donations from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., which owns a large portfolio of fossil fuel companies, which use fracking, you can bet that her first official act of business as president wouldn’t be to ban fracking. Not to mention, Clinton’s top donors include JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, so were the banks to go under, almost certainly the American people would be forced to, once again, bail out the irresponsibility of the government. 

Similarly, the very notion of super-delegates is inherently undemocratic. After Jimmy Carter’s landslide loss against Ronald Reagan in 1972, the Democratic Party created super-delegates in order to control the democratic nominee to avoid future party losses. However, the idea that certain establishment democrats know the needs and desires of everyday people better than they know themselves is undemocratic. Not only is it undemocratic, it is dangerous. With the influence of Citizens United, super-delegates have the power and incentive to control elections for the sake of their financers, and not the sake of their values.

This election season, however, a light has been shined on the corruption of the political establishment. Bernie Sanders has attempted to pull back the curtain and expose the very real threats to the so-called ‘free world’. Sanders refuses to take campaign contributions from SuperPacs, and in the last three months of 2015 alone he received a record-breaking 2,513,665 individual contributions, averaging $27 each. This mobilization of the masses is hard to ignore, though that hasn’t stopped the establishment-owned mainstream media from trying. Recently, Amy Goodman, the host of ‘Democracy Now!’, blasted the three biggest corporate media outlets, CNN, MSNBC and Fox for blatantly ignoring a Bernie Sanders rally, which hailed thousands of supporters, and instead covering an empty stage at a Donald Trump rally, refusing even to acknowledge the overwhelming crowd in Arizona ‘feelin’ the bern’. The fact is Time Warner and Comcast own the majority of corporate media. CNN is owned by Time Warner, which has given $591,524 to Clinton throughout her political career, yet they are allowed to ‘moderate’ debates. When establishment media filters and colors the information we receive, there can be no denying the system is rigged. If corporate media journalists have a political agenda they are forced to uphold, how can we be sure the information we read is not purely political propaganda?

Now I must be clear, Hillary Clinton is not the only politician to have SuperPacs, and she certainly won’t be the last. That is, of course, unless we, the American people, choose to take back our individual freedoms and protect the economy, protect the environment and protect ourselves from the vested interests with everything to gain, while we have everything to lose.

So, to all the so-called patriots who beat us over the head with the notion that America is the great defender of freedom, ask yourselves, what price are you paying to defend the farce of freedom?