Fresh from the first 10 billion election campaign, two award-winning authors show how unbridled campaign spending defines our politics and, failing a dramatic intervention, signals the end of our democracy.
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 biggerespecially after the Citizens United rulingand 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.
Nichols and McChesney (coauthors of The Death and Life of American Journalism and cofounders of Free Press, a media reform group) are both despairing and hopeful in this incisive account of what they see as corporate America s hijacking of the election process. While the $10 billion spent in the 2012 presidential election was unprecedented, America s plutocrats have long been determined to make their vote count. Though contesting this trend is a deeply rooted American tradition, it s troubling to read about dismantled restrictions against corporate dominance, beginning with Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell who, in 1978, laid the groundwork for the problematic 2011 Citizens United decision. As the authors note, unchecked out-of-state donations ensure that elected officials hold no loyalty to their constituents. Their examination of media involvement proves less precise. It remains unclear whether they are positing that media conglomerates collude with business by narrowing coverage in order to rake in billions in political advertising, allow advertising to drive the story, or roll over and play dead. The hopefulness here is in the authors prescription: encouraging the growing movement to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United; a call for more robust public broadcasting; and an appeal to make voting a Constitutional guarantee. They conclude with a fervent call to all citizens to refuse to be ridden by a booted, and spurred favored few.