I often think that defense of the US electoral system, capitalism, or for that matter most things, are defenses of the idea of them rather than what’s actually going on. Democracy in any form is a great idea, as long as the people are actually educated on what they’re voting on and there’s some semblance of transparency in who’s actually pulling the strings.
Right now we have neither, and the whole kerfuffle surrounding the US Chamber of Commerce is just mindblowing.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a much larger budget than any local Chambers of Commerce. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce typically spends tens of millions of dollars of lobbying on Capitol Hill. In this election season alone, the Chamber has spent $75 million in political advertisements, often attacking Democratic candidates.
One controversy surrounding the organization is that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t have to disclosure the identities its donors. This has led to criticism that the majority of its $75 million political budget comes from a relatively small number of wealthy corporations. For example, tax records have indicated that a third of the budget for the Chamber in 2008 came from 19 companies. The lack of disclosure — and the wealth of the donors — led the Obama Administration to claim that the Chamber is receiving foreign money.
I hate to parrot Michael Moore here, but it really does become inarguable that pure unfettered capitalism subverts democracy. Anonymous donors pump candidates full of money who then run with misleading ads and empty campaign promises, and millions of deluded voters shuffle into the booths, waving little American flags and cheering about how they’re doing their “civic duty”, with no idea who they’re truly voting for: the donors.
It’s like Jesse Ventura said. Candidates should have to wear ads like NASCAR drivers so we know who’s in their pockets.