“Two things are important in politics. One is money. I don’t remember what the other one is.”
– Mark Hanna
After finishing my book on the causes of the Holocaust in 2013, I began researching and writing a book about how big money in politics – the financing of election campaigns with high-dollar donations – has damaged our democracy. What I learned horrified me.
Campaign cash has robbed Americans of the franchise by rendering their votes nearly meaningless. Although we can still go to the polls and vote, big donors have effectively chosen the candidates for whom we may vote, and set limits to the policies which these candidates can support. Big money has reduced government policy to the lowest common denominator of the wishes of donors. Lobbying, which gains its muscle from political donations, fosters gridlock, creating a political system in which several thousand players each exercise a veto over policies of concern to them. Lobbyists also add hundreds of billions of dollars of wasteful spending to the federal budget, as they secure for their corporate clients all manner of contracts, tax breaks and subsidies. Money has fostered mutual contempt between leaders and led: Americans view politicians with the deepest cynicism, while candidates and their handlers regard the voters as a necessary evil, as children, to be placated and manipulated with cheap emotional appeals. Justifiably angry at being disenfranchised, disrespected, and stuck with a government that doesn’t work, Americans increasingly turn their anger upon each other, because no one has explained to them that it was campaign cash that took their vote away, that the money, and not the opposing party, is their enemy. The voter’s understandable anger has produced a level of partisan antagonism which has made the country ungovernable.
Perhaps worst of all, big money has led the political class to forget that being an American means something special, that the country stands for democracy, the ideal which defines our very nationhood. The American people remain as patriotic as ever, but for many of our leaders patriotism has degenerated into an empty slogan and an excuse for mean-spirited chauvinism. Consequently, the United States has surrendered much of the moral authority we enjoyed as the world’s foremost champion of democracy, while our dysfunctional politics ties our hands, preventing America from giving the human community the leadership needed to rally the world’s peoples in an effective effort against climate change catastrophe. For the foregoing reasons, of all the political issues on the world’s agenda today, none is even remotely as important as campaign finance reform in the United States of America.
In the 2016 and 2020 presidential candidates, three candidates called for fundamental change to a political system they challenged as undemocratic corrupt: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. All three identified campaign finance as a significant problem. Unfortunately, however, none of these candidates explained to the voters how money in politics actually works, and none offered a real solution to the problem. Consequently, I have set my book manuscript aside and have founded a political organization, Save American Democracy, dedicated to promoting the Democracy Dollars campaign finance reform. Please visit our website: www.saveamericandemocracypac.org.
The American people’s rebellion at the ballot box in 2016 and 2020 shows that the time is ripe for my undertaking. As often as Trump supporters may disagree with those who supported Sanders and Warren, taking them all together we have a clear majority of the American people who agree on what matters most: our political system is undemocratic and hopelessly broken, and we need fundamental change now.
Join us! Visit our website, and learn how you can be part of our movement to make the USA, once again, the world’s greatest democracy.