The money and power behind this week’s elections results confirm that democracy is under siege. We, the people, don’t control our leaders; instead moneyed interests get their way. Corporations are free to buy politicians, judges and elections with virtually unlimited cash, while big media conglomerates reap billions from political advertising.
We idealize the notion of political equality in the voting booth but eviscerate it in practice, caught in the clutches of a “money-and-media complex” not unlike the vast “military-industrial complex” President Eisenhower warned us about more than half a century ago.
No one knows the dangers better than John Nichols and Robert McChesney, who speak with Bill this week on Moyers & Company. Nichols is Washington correspondent for The Nation and a pioneering political blogger. McChesney is a leading scholar of communications and society and a professor at the University of Illinois. Together, ten years ago, they became the founding figures of the media reform movement Free Press and have never flagged in challenging big money and big media. Their latest book is Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex Is Destroying America.
“Democracy means rule of the people, one person, one vote,” McChesney says. “Dollarocracy means the rule of the dollars. One dollar, one vote. Those with lots of dollars have lots of power. Those with no dollars have no power.” Nichols tells Moyers: “Dollarocracy has the ability to animate dead ideas. You can take an idea that’s a bad idea, buried by the voters. Dollarocracy can dig it up and that zombie idea will walk among us.”