Column: America heads down a plutocratic path

Column: America heads down a plutocratic path

More than ever, America is showing disturbing signs of plutocracy, growing further and further away from the representative democracy that the Founding Fathers envisioned. In the past week, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) determined to eliminate the cap on private campaign donations in their case McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. After this ruling, the only limitations on campaign financing is a simple $5,200 per candidate limit, although total donations are no longer limited (a change from the former $123,200 election cycle cap). Staying true to the American judicial system, based off of common law and the idea of stare decisis, the Supreme Court remembered Citizens United v. FEC and decided that, despite the interests of the people, allowing the wealthy to have a greater hand in elections is a just, democratic, and Constitutional principle.

Contrary to the brain trust in SCOTUS, however, allowing the ultra-wealthy even more buying power is not in the slightest bit a promotion of the core ideals of American society. As the 1% gets wealthier and wealthier, their power seems to rise exponentially. McCutcheon v. FEC is simply another stepping stone on the ever-shrinking path towards total plutocracy.

In our modern world, it’s preposterous to believe that campaign donors don’t receive special consideration by elected officials based off of the amount they donated. Simply put, money is influence. And now, more than ever, individuals can decide to throw out as much influence as they so choose, never again having to be wary of the specific agenda of a SuperPAC or other corporation through which their donation would have had to go through. And as the 1% clamors for more and more influence, shelling out millions upon millions of dollars as if it were pocket change, every-day Americans clamor for food, proper wages, employment, and other “plebeian needs” that don’t seem to warrant our attention or focus. And as thus, it becomes apparent that the super-wealthy are now the real benefactors of major legislation, not the vast majority of Americans. Chief Justice John Roberts asserted that, “Spending large sums of money in connection with elections does not give rise to quid pro quo corruption.” This may or may not be true, but ostensibly there seems to be a connection between finance and political favoritism. Since when did America become a nation that favored only the rich and threw to the wayside the needs and desires of the middle-class?

People often lament the fact that America is no longer as strong as it used to be, yet don’t argue enough against the reasons why this change has occurred. At its strongest, America was a country of middle-class workers and consumers, not wealthy aristocrats. That’s where the true majority lies, not in the words and dollars and influence of the few at the top. Fortunately, the solution to return America to its former prestige seems quite simple, really: stop favoring the rich, and reinstitute the “for the people, by the people” mentality of our political predecessors. Despite going against the foundation of our legal system, it’s time for courts to begin to violate the precedent of Citizens United and McCutcheon and return the true freedom of expression and liberty to the people.