|Plutocracy in U.S.? Maybe so|
|Written by Daily Vidette Editorial Board|
|Monday, 26 November 2012 13:39|
In recent years, the United States political culture seems to have become increasingly divisive. Declaring oneself to be conservative or liberal carries more weight in casual conversation than in the past. Moderates are harder to come by and the lack of third-party candidate popularity is a testament to the two-party system’s success.
Because of this divide, some individuals have gone to the far-left and far-right political spectrum and continued to spout hatred for the other side. The examples of the far-right, unfiltered and often uneducated rants about President Barack Obama secretly being a Muslim, socialist, communist, Nazi and the Antichrist are highly visible in certain outlets. However, in the 2012 election season, a new term, arguably used by those on the left, has risen in popularity.
A simple Google search of this word reveals many people sounding off against the rise of the elites, the Occupy Wall Street movement, as well as calls for Gov. Mitt Romney’s tax returns.
That word is plutocracy. In its simplest definition, it means rule by the wealthy. Many have claimed that America has finally gone from a democracy to a plutocracy and that evidence is everywhere.
According to Bill Moyers, White House Press Secretary during the Johnson administration, Goldman Sachs gave more money than any other major American corporation to Obama in 2008 and switched alliances this year giving $900,000 to both the Romney campaign and the pro-Romney super PAC. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in 2010 a GOP victory would make America a plutocracy. The Daily Beast has published articles about how the party of Lincoln has become the party of plutocrats.
Has the Grand Old Party become the Grand Old Plutocracy? This is very debatable. On one hand, this is not a new idea. The first known use of the word was in 1652 and examples of plutocracies include ancient Greece and Rome.
This election, while Obama may not have received funding from Goldman Sachs, he still spent about $100 million more on the campaign than Romney. Also, Pelosi, who says the GOP will lead America into a plutocracy, was funded by Wells Fargo, Anheuser-Busch, AFLAC, Boeing, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Time Warner Cable, Occidental Petroleum and interestingly, Bain Capital.
It is difficult to ignore the amount of financial influence in American politics today. But sadly, there has always been a limit on who has power in politics. In 1776, only white men with property had the right to vote but Catholics, Jews and Quakers were barred from voting. African Americans and Native Americans could not vote.
While these problems were eventually resolved and voting requirements only limit age and those with a felony, the limitations are now on the candidate’s side. One must be wealthy to even be considered as a major candidate and without that funding, there is no chance of success.
However, citizens still have the right to vote and many other freedoms that other countries do not have. Plutocracy is not a conspiracy theory, but not something to be completely ignored either. However, if the issues with the extreme wealth of the very few and the power that brings to politics becomes more evident in normal, everyday life, then as citizens we have a problem. If the Occupy movement kept its momentum, the ideas of a plutocracy may be more prevalent in mainstream media.