6.4.5.3 Public Dissatisfaction with Venal Politicians

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/6453a.htm)

Economic inequality in America has dramatically increased in recent years (3.5.6.2), partly because of kickbacks to the wealthy as described in the previous sub-section (6.4.5.2).  The public has begun to take notice.

In the 2016 Presidential primary elections, many Americans started to express their dissatisfaction with mainstream politicians who were seen as being in the pockets of the rich.  Drawing attention to the resulting financial injustice was “How Bernie Sanders stole Hillary Clinton’s youth vote”, according to Freddy Gray’s article in The Spectator.  Among The 10 best lines from Donald Trump’s announcement speech was this assertion: “I don’t need anybody’s money”.  Americans were voting decisively against a tainted political establishment.

Some politicians behave with total disregard for how their actions appear to the general public.  For example, as reported by HuffPost, “Blake Farenthold Says He Won’t Repay $84,000 Sexual Harassment Settlement”; (this was taxpayer money, used to cover his personal liabilities).  Furthermore, he had just resigned from Congress to take up a new “six-figure lobbying job”.  Such behaviour looks like someone who had ‘his snout in the trough’; it contributes to public disillusion with politicians.

Elected representatives who are dependent on campaign financing are unlikely to vote to end the present system in America.  And the media would argue against changing the current system because they want the advertising revenue from the wealthy (6.4.3.3).

Large-scale protests, such as the Occupy Movement, have influenced public opinion – but people’s voting intentions are also swayed by advertising that has been paid for by wealthy people and corporations.  The stranglehold exerted by the rich over America’s democracy can probably only be broken by following some of the OECD guidelines referred to earlier (6.4.5.1).

Britain and European countries have a smaller problem with voter resentment, because campaign spending is limited by law.

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