The China Society for Human Rights Studies on Thursday published an article argued that money politics is the main reason for the severe divisions in politics and society in the United States.
The United States always praises itself as the “beacon” of democracy, advocating that people have the right to participate in public affairs, elections, and supervision over their governments. Nevertheless, in reality, given the severe divisions in US politics and society, a large number of US citizens do not have a chance to participate in politics. The main reason for this phenomenon is money politics. Money politics exposes the hypocrisy of US democracy.
Money politics runs through all aspects of US elections, legislation, and governance, and has become a persistent disease in US society. Under such circumstances, elections, whose original purpose is to express the will of the voters, determine the political direction, and choose qualified leaders, have been reduced to money games. The money politics of the United States has distorted public opinion and turned elections into a “one-man show” of the wealthy class. Money is deeply involved in every aspect of US elections. Raising funds is a prerequisite for a candidate to run in an election at any level. Without enough money, it is simply impossible to compete for any important political position. In 2016, US elections, including presidential and congressional elections, cost a total of US$6.6 billion, making it the most expensive political election in US history.
In addition to publicly registered election funds, a large amount of secret funds and “dark money” have also been injected into the US election activities. As reported by National Broadcasting Company (NBC) News in 2018, as the United States Department of the Treasury (USDT) announced that it would no longer require most non-profit organizations to report their source of donations, the transparency of election funding would be significantly reduced. Over 40 percent of TV commercials broadcast by these outside groups to influence congressional elections are funded by secret donors.
Money politics is an inevitable result of the US capitalist system. The United States is a capitalist country, and US democracy is a political form through which the bourgeois rules. Given this, US democracy naturally reflects the will of the capitalists and serves their interests. Candidates of the two major political parties in the United States are merely representatives of different factions within the bourgeoisie.
Lobbying is an important way to implement money politics. Lobbying is a political phenomenon peculiar to the United States, and lobbying-induced corruption is an inherent dysfunction of the US political system. Interest groups hire lobbyists to lobby members of the US Congress and their aides, influence the formulation and amendment of bills, and seek their own interests. Over the past 40-odd years, the lobbying industry in the United States has developed rapidly, showing explosive growth. In 1971, there were only 175 registered lobbyists in the United States, but the number quickly increased to 2,500 in 1981 and to 13,700 in 2009. This means that, on average, each member of the US Congress, including the House of Representatives and the Senate, is lobbied by more than 20 lobbyists.
Money politics brings serious consequences. First, money politics deprives ordinary people of their political rights. Although the United States often shows off its “one person, one vote” US-style democracy, the reality is that the voting rights of low-income US citizens are severely restricted. As reported by U.S. News & World Report, from 2010 to 2015, 21 states in the United States formulated new laws restricting voting rights, and 14 states implemented new measures to restrict the exercise of voting rights in the 2016 presidential election. The main purpose of these laws and measures was to prevent the poor from registering to vote. As reported by the website of Newsweek on November 21, 2017, thousands of US citizens have been deprived of their voting rights because of poverty.
Second, government posts have become exclusive for rich people and the upper class. According to the US political practices, after winning an election, the elected candidate will usually reward those persons who have made significant contributions to the election campaign, such as major donors and fundraisers, with government posts. After taking office, the newly elected US president will usually appoint a group of major donors as ambassadors.
Third, money politics is blatantly delivering benefits to the rich. As money affects legislation and government decisions, the rich people can make politicians serve them through campaign donations and promises of the return of benefits and legislate on their behalf. The presidents and administrations elected with the help of money will definitely favor the rich when formulating policies, and they will openly or implicitly pass on benefits to the rich. This is a disguised transaction of money and power.
Fourth, money politics makes it more difficult for the United States to solve its pressing political and social problems. In the United States, the proliferation of guns and gun violence are major political and social problems, which have plagued US society for many years. Nevertheless, interest groups such as the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), who oppose gun control, have successfully disrupted the governmental gun control efforts by participating in elections and lobbying. These interest groups have made significant political contributions to the US presidential and congressional elections. They donated US$113 million through PACs between 2010 and 2018 alone.
Money politics exposes the nature of US society and the lies of the United States when it is praising itself as the best example of exercising democracy and safeguarding human rights for the world. “US-style democracy” is the democracy of the rich people and the capitalists. It seldom benefits the lower classes of US society. The democratic rights stipulated in the US Constitution can only be enjoyed by the people who have enough money in their pockets. In the United States, where money governs politics, political participation and discussions can never be actualized without the help of money. Money politics has ruthlessly crushed “US-style democracy”.