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How Money in Politics Destroys American Democracy

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Source: Pamela Drew

President Donald Trump boasts about his wealth any chance he can. During an interview in 2011 with ABC’s Good Morning America, he stated: “Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich.”

Widening economic inequality and an excessive amount of money in politics has been changing the modern political landscape. Poor Americans are increasingly becoming alienated from politics.

The issues that matter the most (such as increasing minimum wage and making education and health care accessible for all) are ignored. Instead, politicians are either indebted to corporations that gave them money or run for office to protect their upper-class interests.

Around 64% of Americans under the age of 30 believe that the wealth gap between the rich and the poor is larger today. Over half of these Americans also believe that it is a major problem.

In the United States, competitive political campaigns require large sums of money. Rather than politicians running a grassroots campaign, it is easier to simply accept money from a large corporate entity. This predominantly contributes to the growing wealth gap.

Does the government really represent the people? In 2010, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission declared the corporations contain “personhood”.

Therefore, corporations are entitled to make political expenditures under the first amendment. Declaring corporations as people show that American politicians often prefer to favor the rich and to protect them at all costs, even at the expense of the working and middle class.

Money controls the direction of politics. As more money funnels in from the rich and corporate entities, legislations will always reflect this disparity.

In 2016, political candidates spent around $6.4 billion on campaigns, which is twice what was spent in 2000 campaigns. The unrestrained amount of money spent with the intent to influence politics hinders the point of American democracy. We have instead become a plutocracy. American is governed by the wealthy, for the wealthy.

The working poor hold the lowest-paying and most unstable jobs. Health care is inaccessible and expensive. Even the proclaimed way of escaping poverty through higher education has become increasingly impossible due to astronomical prices to simply attend college.

The poor are often stuck in this vicious cycle of poverty and ignored by American politics. These communities are ignored simply because their vote is worth less than a rich person.

The wealthy have an unfair advantage. They have the power and money to influence politics in the direction that they prefer. Corporate tax breaks laissez-faire economics and annihilates welfare programs in favor of austerity politics.

For economic inequality to be reduced, there needs to be a reduction in money in politics. Allowing corporate spending on politics should end and there should be limits to the amount of money wealthy individuals can spend.

Political inequality perpetuates economic inequality, and a change won’t occur until politicians recognize that poor people matter too. That their lives and struggles should transcend politicians’ desires to help the wealthy and get rich off politics.

The government should be doing everything they can to help low-income communities, rather than helping the rich.

By: Trevor Falsey

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