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Big money in politics is eroding our democracy

November 14, 2018

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Big money in politics is eroding our democracy

Billionaire Tom Steyer’s Need To Impeach campaign gained traction with the newly invigorated Democratic Party, who won the majority in the House of Representatives in the midterms. Need To Impeach has a list of nine impeachable offenses that President Donald Trump has committed. The Democratic Party now has the ability to do what some Americans have been hoping to see since election night: the impeachment of Trump.

Democrats can initiate the impeachment process with a simple majority and conduct investigations into government officials. Yes, the Democratic Party could look into impeaching Trump, but they should do it because a majority of their constituents want an impeachment and not because billionaire donors like Tom Steyer are advocating for it. Let’s ignore that a Trump impeachment means a Mike Pence presidency, which may or may not look like the authoritarian Gilead from Hulu’s “Handmaid’s Tale.”

Steyer donated $120 million to the midterm elections. The question must be asked, does money buy access for these mega donors? A 2016 HBO documentary, “Meet the Donors: Does Money Talk?” attempted to address whether money buys you access to elected officials. No one answered with definitive proof, but assuming that business people want a solid return on investments, it is difficult to believe donors like Steyer would continue to donate year after year to elections and measures if they did not receive some type of return.

Big money in our political system is corrupting our democracy. In San Francisco’s election, Lyft donated $100,000 in opposition of Proposition C, a ballot measure that aimed to tackle the homeless issue in the city. In a democratic society, every person’s vote should be equal and every person’s voice should be heard equally. The fact that Steyer and other wealthy political donors have the ability to donate large sums of money to politicians is slowly eroding our democracy with every election cycle.

Wealthy people should not be able to have more pull in the government based on a higher socioeconomic status. Steyer is currently on Forbes’ billionaire list as number 1477 with a net worth of $1.6 billion. Some of the other notable members of this “Three Comma List” are Jeff Bezos (1), Warren Buffett (3) and the Koch brothers (8). Bezos donated $10.1 million to the With Honor Fund, which donated to candidates on both sides of the aisle. Buffet donated $33,900 to the Democratic Senatorial Committee and about $5,400 between a pair of candidates. The Koch brothers’ Koch Industries donated $1.3 million to Republican candidates and $24,500 to democratic candidates.

Voter turnout is influenced based on the idea that the deck is stacked against them. That an individual’s vote may not matter as much because of the money floating around in the political system. Sure, there are instances where donations are made in support of a candidate and that candidate loses, but that’s a gamble investors have to make. That’s a bad return on investment and the political system keeps chugging along. If the money in the political system is removed, the political voting field would be more balanced.

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