Contributed by Joe Montero
The United States has just gone to vote in its midterm elections. This means ballots for all 435 Seats of the House of Representatives and 35 Senate seats. Governors will be elected for 36 out of the 50 states, along with Attorneys General, Treasurers, and auditors.
Like any election process in this country, the 2022 campaign has been accompanied by a great deal of fanfare about democracy. But just how democratic is the electoral process? This is a crucially important question.
Democrat campaigners and many of those who place themselves on the political left argue that a key issue is the defence of a democratic system under threat by the forces around Donald Trump. There is no doubt that Trump and his grip on the Republicans represents a push towards undermining the validity of the vote, the politics of hate, and autocracy.
As concerning as this is, there is something in the Trump argument about the control of an elite over the political institutions and processes., and this resonates with a significant portion of those feeling left out. They see the system does nothing for them and theirs.
Photo from CNN: Donald Trump has used elections to boost his ambition for 2022 comeback
Never mind that Trump is self-serving and part of the elite he rails against. He and those around him have been able to channel some of the anger around their own ambitions.
The Democrats ignore that part of the reality that Trump exploits. They have positioned themselves as the true conservatives defending the status quo, even though it is rotten. This is the reason why they will likely get a drubbing and may have accidentally beathed new life into the Trump bandwagon, which brings the possibility of his becoming the president in 2024.
Why is this happening? Mostly because he political system of the United States has always been designed to keep what is possible within very narrow boundaries. The whole institutional framework of the state, control over media, information, and culture, promotes an atmosphere that builds the illusion of American democracy.
A strange definition of democracy it is, when it depends on manipulation and control over what is permissible. Matters like the loss of decent jobs, wage stagnation and rising poverty, police violence against people of colour, the poor state of the health system, corruption, climate change, the very idea that wealth should be redistributed downward have been relegated to the backroom.
Rising poverty is ignored in the political process
Out front is argument about personalities and who is to blame for the economic and social problems, without offering major alternatives. These midterm elections have been turned into a referendum on Trumpism, instead of an opportunity to present real alternatives. Holding back the resurrection of Trump has importance. But it is not enough.
A further hint on the poverty of American politics is the fact that getting into office is for sale. Election campaigns requires lots of money, and the fat cats of Wall street are happy to oblige. The two parties are under the thumb of donor’s committees. This would be declared undemocratic anywhere else. Billionaires get the choose who stands and their dollars get them, elected.
The scale of these donations, which should be called corruption, has been escalating. It increased by 44 percent in 2022 compared to a declared 2018 to reach $880 million. The top donor was George Soros. He gave $118 million to the Democrats.
Ken Giffin, Stephen Scwarzman, and Peter Thiel gave $66 million, $33 million, and $30 million to the Republicans. Others who added their multi million dollar generosity are Netflix founder Reed Hastings and the CEOs of Oracle and Fedex. These examplels were revealed by Americans For Tax Fairness. This is only a small part of the $16 billion spent on the election campaigns. Most of it came from big donors and favoured the Republicans.
They don’t give without expecting something in return. And this is policies friendly to Wall street.
You can’t have a genuinely democratic process when money plays a dominant role in the outcome. This is not the model the world should hold up as a model. The United States will continue to blunder along until this is sorted out.
In the meantime, the corrupted United Sates political system will continue to wreak damage at home and across the planet. At least until people put a stop to it.