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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Actualization of American Democracy

 

The foundation of democracy is the will of the people. The Democratic republic of the United States was premised on a system of proportional representation. So, naturally, representation of the population is a core tenant of our legislative system. But our system is flawed: the will of the people has been stifled by economic inequality. Today, the top 1% of the population holds over half our nation’s wealth. This extensive economic stratification has redefined the structure of our political system, endowing the wealthiest members of society with disproportionate power.

 

             Nearly half our nation does not vote. We are told we are lazy, disinterested, and apathetic; and some of us are. But what about the rest of us, the people who care that Africa is not a country and care that words are categorized in dictionaries, not created in the imagination of George W. Bush? What is stopping us? Two reasons come to mind: lack of education, and more importantly, the fact that voter registration laws include various populace-suppressing techniques. Examples of these include the secret ballot, unreasonable limits on when a citizen can register, and requiring multiple forms of I.D.

The question then becomes; Why did this happen? How did voting rates, which were at 90-97% preceding the Jacksonian revolution of 1828 fall to a dismal 10-20%, and then slowly crawl up to the 40-50% average that we enjoy today?1 Our answer lies within the minds of the great entrepreneurs of the golden age: the pioneers of monopoly, the architects of corporatism and the firing squad of democracy.

This massive drop in turnout resulted from the consolidation that the American business sector went through in the 1890’s. A highly diverse, competitive economy turned into a select few titans.  These companies with their newfound buying power were able to exert massive amounts of influence over the American Political system and did so in order to achieve their goals.1

Restricting turnout made it easier and less expensive for the business elites’ preferred candidates to sweep elections and pass legislation exploiting the American public. These mega-companies forced out any candidate that represented the people or the workforce by outspending the opposition. Therefore, political campaigns degenerated into the financial district v. the manufacturing district1; the will of the people forever being drowned in a sea of money. Each following generation has inherited this mockery of a political race and done nothing. Generations later, we remain trapped in the crossfire of wealthy investor blocks seeking to gain access to political legislators. Now the echo boomers are up to bat and Cy Young is pitching.

In 2010, 46 years of campaign regulation was ruled unconstitutional. The Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Roberts decided that corporations have the same right as citizens to finance elections. The court stipulated that corporations “free speech” would be violated if they were not allowed to spend their treasury funds on campaign ads. Laughably, Justice Kennedy, who delivered the courts opinion, came to the conclusion that if corporations were regulated in their spending, then the government gained the right to shut down media outlets. He even went as far to say that with the current law, the government would have legally been able to ban Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. “It is so ordered.”2

 As a result of the Citizens United case, 4.2 billion dollars were spent on political ads.  In 2008, a main-year election, only 2.5 billion was spent on congressional ad campaigns.4 A nearly 80% increase from 2008.3 Furthermore, interest groups spent 5 times as much in 2010 as they did in 2008. Literally, every minute of air time during prime time T.V. was devoted to some kind of political advertisement. The reality is this: $1.7 billion can buy a legislature.

Giving true power back to the voter is a goal within our grasp. Thanks to the people of Tunisia and Egypt, non-violent opposition in the modern era has gone through the Valley of Death and come out alive. We the people have the ability to stand up to our state and tell them that we will no longer be controlled by Wall Street. We are done hearing about the “jobless recovery” while the Dow Jones Index is up to the boom levels of 2006. We are infuriated that the men behind one of the most illegal, harmful, premeditated financial blunders of our time are still at large living off the extravagant bonuses funded by the American taxpayer. Most of all, we are furious that these men control our fate. This is our time for change.