Jason Dias: And You Think This Is Democracy?

democracy plutocracy
Written by Jason Dias

In a plutocracy, the wishes of the wealthy disproportionately influence governmental decisions. Can the U.S. be a plutocracy and a democracy at the same time? Jason Dias explains.

aNewDomain commentaryjason-dias-anewdomain-amazon-kindle — I live in Colorado Springs. The Evangelical Vatican, according to James Ridgeway. Every election season, because we have a directly accessible constitution, we have to go out and vote down yet another “personhood” amendment.

These amendments would grant human rights, citizenship, to the unborn at the time of their conception. Regardless of the moral argument, the legal mess this would create is simply untenable. And the structural violence against women is equally untenable. Such a set of laws would grant the state rights over the bodies of pregnant women.

But that’s not what this article is about.

This article is about plutocracy.

vote2The average person is barely represented in the halls of power. As we line up to pick our presidential candidates, a slate we get to vote against roughly a year from now, bear in mind that almost none of the things they talk about are going to be real, enactable issues in the 2017 political season. Congress and the senate propose almost no bills that positively impact the average person. Their bills are largely grandstanding, theatre.

Like the “several dozen” votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act that pass the Congress with no hope of passing the Senate.

Like the 10 or so Congressional Benghazi investigations that cost a ton of money and find nothing of any significance.

Like the inquiries into alleged misconduct by Planned Parenthood based on doctored tapes by known fraudsters.

Our elected officials really represent the people who pay for their campaigns, and the people for whom they will be millionaire lobbyists when their terms are up.

If Exxon is going to pay you serious hard cash when you reach the end of your term limits, are you really going to jeopardize that by voting in the public interest?

But the few rich Americans and the corporations they lead don’t get to vote for president alone. We all have the same number of votes: one each. Now the Koch Brothers have attempted to leverage their corporations by threatening employees. But, by and large, we all get to vote.

Which brings us back to personhood.

democracy or plutocracySuch efforts to put politically divisive measures on state ballots are not always what they seem. These measures bring out angry white voters in disproportionate numbers, the kinds of people who vote Red. And as long as you’re coming out to vote for personhood, you’ll go ahead and vote for your whole team, the whole slate.

There are many such issues, wedge issues, that find their way onto state ballots around presidential election time. Marijuana is a big one, bringing out ordinarily apathetic Democratic voters. Gun control is another one. Most people don’t really care about gun control one way or another but people who oppose it do so virulently. They come out and make their voices heard. You want action on guns? You have to care as much about regulation as they do.

Or does it really matter?

In a plutocracy, the wishes of the wealthy are disproportionately represented in the actions of government. This is the truth here, a hard and unyielding truth. A data-supported truth.

Voting for or against state measures is probably the most productive thing you can do with your enfranchisement.

But take with salt the idea that your raft of candidates care about the issues they talk about.

They want to inflame you — about energy, climate change, immigration, women’s health issues and crime, jobs and healthcare.

But when they get into office, they’ll do what they’ve always done: Vote against your interests.

For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.

Cover image: by Rick (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons. Image one: “Le marquis de Morès & Rothschild” by Gavroche – La Diane, n° 105, 13 avril 1890. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. Image two: Merriam-Webster.com, All Rights Reserved.