Obama vs Romney: How Money in Politics Manipulates the Middle Class

It seems like no matter what stupid things Mitt Romney says or does, the American people just don’t respond the way they should when it comes to their opinion of him in the polls.

Let’s face it, Mitt is not well-spoken, probably couldn’t point to Iran on a map, does nothing but toe the line of Republicans in order to gain votes, doesn’t seem to have any ideas of his own, and yet according to my fellow PolicyMic pundit Jesse Merkel, the swing states are slightly tilting towards him. All this from a man who has a ridiculous amount of time to become an expert on the issues that weigh so heavily in the future of our country, but still can’t manage a cogent argument.

What does this tell us? I personally think it says that lower and middle class (what’s left of them) Americans are completely out of touch with what is best for their personal interests. It isn’t their fault, it is the environment that money politics has created, and it keeps their voices silent while manipulating their feelings. Are you a God-fearing Christian? Perfect! God loves hard-working people like you that toil all day long for $20K a year, and it just so happens that our candidate is a man of God himself!

Think about it: if you earn at or around the poverty line, what chance do you have to go to college and learn about the issues? How can you make an informed decision on who your candidate should be if you have to spend all of your time worrying about paying your rent and putting food in your child’s mouth? Instead, you are going to vote based on a candidate’s family values, religious stance, race, or stance on abortion -- all things that don’t matter one iota when it comes to hard policy issues. Enter Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and 30-second political attack ads that provide you with all the useless information you need to decide based on these parameters.

But good luck making an informed decision based on these and similar outlets. And to be honest, as much as your vote matters -- informed or not -- it plays second fiddle to the more powerful vote that only a few of the more privileged have: the campaign contribution. If you can’t afford to contribute, don’t expect the issues you find important to be paid any attention, because political action committees and lobbying organizations that spend lavishly on their chosen party are the ones who really decide what the candidates will pay attention to. 

Call it a conspiracy theory if you like, but money dominates politics more than ever, and that money is completely detrimental to the values that a representative democracy like ours is founded upon. The majoritarian -- majority rule -- basis upon which our democracy runs is being destroyed by the minority of wealthy individuals who have the power to make what matters most to them the issues that become so crucial for candidates to deliberate. Take this chart for example, showing the top contributors to Romney’s campaign for 2011-2012:


Source: Influence Explorer

How many reading this have a portfolio with Goldman Sachs? How about JP Morgan? If you do, congratulations, because Mitt Romney hears your voice loud and clear at the expense of the rest of us. Do you think executives at Bank of America care whether Romney is pro-choice, shows his birth certificate, or is a Muslim? No, they care that he is against financial regulation and would cut their taxes, and they pay hefty sums to keep his views in line regardless of what is healthy for the middle class.

Although this argument could turn towards campaign finance reform, and the despicable Supreme Court ruling in Buckley vs. Valeo in 1976 to remove short-lived campaign spending caps, I won’t go there for now. Instead, it is important to realize that the few have much louder voices than the many, and that lack of education on the issues by average citizens perpetuates this violation of representative democracy.

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Joseph Sarkisian

Joseph graduated with a Master of Science in international relations from the University of Massachusetts Boston and was an intern at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, DC. He completed his BA at Arizona State University in political science as well as studied Arabic language, terrorism/counterterrorism, and religion. Joseph also lived in Egypt where he studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo in 2007. Joseph was the Secretary of the Executive Committee for the University of Massachusetts Graduate Student Government, a teaching assistant in his department, and teaches a class on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. His main areas of interest are the Af/Pak region, Iran, Syria, and other current foreign policy issues.

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