Money and politics

Why is it that tens of millions of Americans abstain from voting, or that the majority of Americans think elected officials are not true public servants, and that barely 15 percent of the population think Congress is honest and ethical?

Why is it that so many people feel alienated and apathetic about politics?

Well, if you get out and talk to people, and if you do legitimate polling, you find that these people feel betrayed by their elected officials at the expense of big donors, lobbyists, the media, big business and special interests. And as journalist Bill Moyers says, "When so many people drop out of a system they no longer respect and which they think no longer represents them, democracy loses its legitimacy."

American democracy (i.e., American politics) is losing its legitimacy at home and abroad because it is being ruled by the elite instead of the people, as it was intended.

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Despite the fact that President Obama in his 2008 campaign claimed over 100,000 people donated the $25 million to his campaign chest, you can confidently bet the majority of it was given by large donors, huge political action committees, unions, corporations and all the like. And this is no knock on him, it's a knock on the system.

Everyone's doing it, and you'd be a fool not to. According to elections expert Charles Cook, nine of the 10 major-party nominations from 1984 to 2008 went to the candidate who raised the most money in the pre-election year.

The McCain-Feingold Act attempted to show that campaign finance reform is possible. And it showed that we can actually do something to stem the importance of money in politics. But it also shows that unless radical action is taken, campaigns will continue to be run by money.