It’s hard to remain under the illusion that Democracy is thriving in America. When elections for major public offices cost the candidate millions there is hardly any reason to believe that public office is attainable by any citizen. When Super PAC’s were created by the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, an environment was created where corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money in the political arena, as long as it does not go directly to a candidate. As a result the beauty of the American election system has been irreparably damaged.
The latest blow to American Democracy comes from the Republican Party who has decided to expunge any hope that the system is operating on principles in keeping with Democracy. They have done by so calling for NBC and CNN to pull programming that explores the life of Hillary Rodham Clinton. If the networks do not comply, the GOP is threatening to deny them access to Republican primary debates:
“It’s appalling to know executives at major networks like NBC and CNN who have donated to Democrats and Hillary Clinton have taken it upon themselves to be Hillary Clinton’s campaign operatives,” Priebus said in a statement. “Their actions to promote Secretary Clinton are disturbing and disappointing.”
Yet it is not appalling that American corporations, entities with as large a reach and influence as the networks, are doing the same thing through the Super PACs. There also remains that little thing in the Constitution called the first amendment, since corporations are people, shouldn’t they also have their right to free speech protected from blackmail and coercion? Using the same line of reasoning above: Why isn’t Fox News’ continuous attack of President Obama not appalling?
CNN and NBC are not featuring an unknown candidate, such as a Sarah Palin type, in an effort to introduce the public to their desired candidate. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been First Lady, A Senator and Secretary of State; these more then qualify her life for public examination and celebration. To be fair, the GOP is probably right about the motives of CNN and NBC, but if they are going to take American Democracy seriously, they must also allow the Democrats the same leniency to coerce elections that they have created for themselves. Perhaps this is only a type of psuedo-Democracy, but the least they can do is keep the pretense of fair elections alive for the public.
The debates are a sham, they do not inform the public, they do not help the people find the most suitable candidate for the job. Having them tied to corporate giants whose profit motives are never in question, reduces their credibility further. Allowing the parties to have the power to dictate access to the primary debates should be a signal to question the need for them at all. Perhaps we should discard debates and just have the elections. In fact, why not just do away with elections all together and let Wal-Mart choose who the next President is?
Written By Matthew Cohen, MSW
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