Big Money Drowns Out Citizen Speech

End legalized bribery.

End legalized bribery.

By Georgia Platts, John Fioretta and Derek Cressman

Money talks, and big money in politics is drowning out the speech of ordinary citizens.

When wealthy interests give large campaign contributions they let politicians know what they want. And they usually get it.

It may not be formal bribery but it sure looks like it.

Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page are political scientists from Princeton and Northwestern University who in 2014 compared the preferences of ordinary voters and economic elites with 1,779 actual policy outcomes. 

Turns out that economic elites have a substantial impact on policy while average citizens have little to no influence.

That’s right folks! There is almost no relationship between constituent preferences and actual law.

As just one example, financial deregulation let big banks gamble with our money—crashing the economy in 2008. Taxpayers bailed them out but got spiking unemployment and foreclosures in return.

To see the entire, unedited article, go to the San Jose Mercury News where the article continues.

Derek Cressman is a spokesperson for California Common Cause. John Fioretta is a volunteer for Move to Amend. Georgia Platts is a volunteer with Money Out Voters In.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on November 4, 2016, in politics/class inequality and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. This article I can absolutely agree with. I feel very strongly about this topic and how big money conquers most of the decisions in our government. That’s how our politicians get influenced with the cause they run by. The more money a person has the more likely they are able to sway folks with their ideas. Lets take Donald Trump for example. Most Americans liked him and his campaign because he wasn’t using the tax payers money to run his campaign. He used his own fortunes to supply his campaign. His money spoke louder than his debates and actual causes, which most of us could agree on. Folks were more intrigued by his wealth.

    With that being said I feel as a country we should minimize the impact that big businesses have on our elections. I feel as they only stand behind a cause if it solely benefits their businesses.

  2. So this article is essentially talking about how money in politics causes politicians to focus on the the interests of the donors rather than the citizens that they are sworn to serve and help. This causes the average person to feel like their vote doesn’t count because they think that the person they’re voting for won’t help anyways. That’s why I think Bernie Sanders did somewhat well considering that for the last 30 or so years, he has been fighting for the people and against Wall Street and Golden Sachs. Even though I do not want Trump to win, I feel like this is a reason why a lot of people around my age do not like Clinton. Sanders opened our eyes to the corruption in politics with the favoritism within the DNC toward Clinton and the secrets that Clinton has with the Golden Sachs speeches. Even though I do not really want to, I would rather have someone who can be easily persuaded to help us rather than someone who has lost their mind.

    • It helps to live in a tiny state like Vermont, like Bernie Sanders did. Then you don’t need the money in politics so much. (Even then, he does seem to have taken money from the NRA given his votes on gun control.) But most politicians end up losing when they don’t take money. So it doesn’t actually help to be principled, most of the time. Which means we have to change the underlying system of legalized bribery — money and politics.

      Supreme Court justices who were nominated by Democrats vote against money and politics. Justices who are nominated by Republicans support it. Clinton would be much better on this issue.

  3. This arrtical reminds me of what’s happening to the nativa American land. An oil company wants to drill on there land (that is supposed to be protected), and the governor is letting them. I honestly think that the governor is getting payed out. I think money plays a way bigger role in politics then we can all imagine. Politicians are money hungry.

    • Yeah, most likely the governor gets big campaign contributions from oil interests. And wanting to keep getting those campaign contributions, He or she does what they want.

      It’s not the official definition of bribery, But it works almost exactly the same.

  4. Corporations are people, money is speech and speech should not be limited? Please tell me that is your interpretation and not the actual ruling…

    • That’s a real ruling.

      And is one reason why we need Hillary Clinton to win the Presidency. Democratic-appointed Supreme Court justices ruled the opposite on this ridiculous ruling — because they are well aware of the corrupting influence of big money in politics, aka legalized bribery.

      • That is completely unbelievable. Horrifyingly so.
        I am wondering, off topic sorry, what about Jill Stein? Just trying to understand why it appears that there are only 2 candidates when in fact there are many?

      • The US has a winner take all system. So if Trump got 39% of the vote and Johnson got 10% and Hillary got 26% and Jill Stein got 25%, then Trump would win.

        If you are on the left of the political spectrum you worry about splitting your vote and ending up with someone on right. (And vice versa for those on the right.)

        I wrote a little bit about this in a different post if you want to read more (Ms. Stein is with the Green party):

        Vote Green and Move Country Right

      • Yes…in Australia, things are much more complex than that, with allocation of preferences (people vote for candidates in order of preference on the ballot papers) so if we want to vote for one of the smaller parties, our vote is not wasted, because they can still get a seat in parliament.

      • Thanks for clarifying the ins and outs of a parliamentary system.

        Winner-take-all helps to explain how so many Americans could vote for a crazy person like Trump. Many conservatives are more worried about Clinton. But I’m don’t believe they have thought the issue through since so many conservatives are against Trump.

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