I’ve seen a lot over my decades in politics, and not much alarms me. But I have to be blunt: Money is poisoning our political system.
The people who matter most to a representative democracy — the ordinary voters in whose interests elected politicians are supposed to act — feel as though they’ve become an afterthought in the political process. The tidal wave of money washing over our elections, with no end in sight, is causing Americans to lose faith in the system. In that way, the course we’re on threatens the core values and principles that define us as a nation.
Oddly, many politicians see no problem — except perhaps the inconvenient need to spend a significant portion of every day dialing for dollars. They don’t, however, believe this is corrupting. They don’t believe they’re selling their votes, or even that money influences their behavior.
Most Americans believe differently. Poll after poll finds that about half the voters think members of Congress are corrupt. A Democracy Corps poll last summer found clear majorities across the spectrum worried about the impact of Super PAC spending as “wrong” and leading “to our elected officials representing the views of wealthy donors.”