126.96.36.199 Public Anger About Sleaze
There is public anger about sleaze: the way in which wealthy people and organisations can pay money to gain financial concessions.
Economic inequality in America has dramatically increased in recent years (188.8.131.52), partly because of kickbacks to the wealthy as described in the previous sub-section (184.108.40.206). 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. This fuelled populist pressure to overturn the political establishment, which is problematic as described earlier (220.127.116.11). Two politicians capitalised on this:
● Among The 10 best lines from Donald Trump’s announcement speech was this assertion: “I don’t need anybody’s money”. He was distancing himself from politicians who seek political donations to fund their campaigns.
● Bernie Sanders gained a lot of support, particularly from younger voters: “When Sanders took the stage, he railed for 35 minutes against the oligarchy, multinational corporate executives, Wall Street bankers and the 1% of Americans who own more than 40% of the wealth in the country”. He was taking aim at the wealthy donors.
Some politicians behave with total disregard for how their actions appear to the general public. It contributes to public anger about sleaze:
● 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”. This is the behaviour of someone who had ‘his snout in the trough’.
● The New Statesman described David Cameron as “careless”:
“In February 2010, a few months before he became prime minister, David Cameron declared of lobbying: “We all know how it works. The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisers for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way.”
A decade later, Mr Cameron has become an emblem of the culture he claimed to disdain. As an adviser to Greensill Capital, the financial services company that collapsed last month, the former prime minister spent two months harrying the government for business. He texted the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, multiple times, phoned two other ministers and emailed a senior No 10 adviser. During this period Mr Cameron was far from a disinterested party: he reportedly hoped to reap up to £60m from his now worthless shares in the company.”
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 (18.104.22.168).
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 (22.214.171.124).
Britain and European countries have a smaller problem with voter resentment, because campaign spending is limited by law.
This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books. An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/6453.htm.