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Whether It’s Romney or Obama, Democracy Is Losing Big

| February 1, 2012

Seriously? The shot, by Doug Mills of The New York Times, was part of a recent slide show of the president on the road.

Maybe you’ve heard of Schrödinger’s cat. It’s the thought experiment a quantum physicist conducted in 1935 to suggest that a cat could be simultaneously dead and alive. The hypothesis can now be proven beyond doubt. It’s called the American electoral system. It is and it isn’t democracy.

Pierre Tristam FlaglerLive editor

Pierre Tristam

The Live Column

Judging from the look of them some of the candidates also manage to be alive and dead at the same time. But that’s another story. Assuming Mitt Romney were elected, the country could live with a dull president who just acts alive on TV. It cannot survive a broken democracy. What this year’s primary election is showing so far, and what the general election will undoubtedly amplify, is that a system that was already corrupted by money’s influence is now virtually owned by it. Voters are a sideshow, not just because barely half bother to vote. The defining factor of an election isn’t the final vote, which has become the mere fulfillment of polls’ prophesies, but the 30-second TV spot. Whichever packs the most lethal creations about a candidate, whichever saturates critical markets best, wins.

Romney’s win in Florida was not magic. It was accounting. He came into the state trailing Gingrich after South Carolina. He outspent Gingrich $15.3 million to $4.3 million, running 3,267 ads, an astounding 99 percent of them negative. He could afford it—not because he’s the richest (and least-taxed) candidate in the race, but because he has the fattest so-called super PAC, that Orwellian creation of campaign finance that obliterates limits on individual contributions. Ten donors gave $1 million each, totaling a third of the super PAC’s $30 million stash. President Obama’s campaign isn’t a triumph of pluralism, either. It just reported a haul of $40 million in the last three months of 2011 alone, with 300 individuals each raising at least $50,000.

Then there’s Gingrich, prince of the promiscuous. His rise since New Hampshire could not have happened without $10 million donated by a single man. Gingrich keeps obsessing about Obama’s connection to Saul Alinski, the harmless community organizer who died when Obama was 10 years old. Maybe he should tell us a little more about Sheldon Adelson, the eighth richest man in the world who just happens to be under federal investigation for possible violation of, surprise surprise, an anti-corruption law. Adelson’s two major interests are casinos and Israel. He’s the reason Gingrich has been unleashing that slur about Palestinians being an “invented people,” a remark Adelson personally approved. Adelson is also the reason Gingrich lingered so long as a factor in the primary after ambling along the fringes of chat shows and mercenary think tanks for the past decade and a half.

Well, Adelson and five other people: namely, the five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court who two years ago in the Citizens United case overturned the will of hundreds of legislators and millions of citizens by removing barriers on election spending by groups supposedly independent of campaigns, such as unions, corporations and people like Adelson. Justices are still opposed to foreign influence in American elections, for good reason. They should have been equally concerned by the poison of disproportionate influence by anyone, regardless of geography. Instead, the slush fund that was almost Richard Nixon’s undoing in 1952 is now every candidate’s checkered “due.”

But this is no longer democracy. It’s legalized bribery on a scale even the justices could not—or, for their intellectual honesty’s sake, should not—have imagined. No wonder so many people don’t see the point in voting. While the rest of us play one man, one vote in democracy’s delusional sandbox, a bunch of donors who add up to a cocktail party’s guest list are sealing the campaign’s fate. For the 0.01 percent, that’s the real booty of the system.

Pierre Tristam is the editor of FlaglerLive. Reach him by email here.

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18 Responses for “Whether It’s Romney or Obama, Democracy Is Losing Big”

  1. Fred Peterson via Facebook says:

    People need to realize that They will pay one way or another, Either you vote for Obama and pay the federal government for things you need, Or vote for Romney and have corperations and State/Locals governments pay for the things you need, either way YOU PAY, No one is getting anything from either of these guys.

    • Linda says:

      Fred, the government does not have its own money. Those are tax dollars. And they were not intended to support the people. That is not the job of the federal government.

  2. Sandra Marringer-Peterson via Facebook says:

    How true it’s all about money. Doesn’t matter who I vote for anymore. Only millionaires get to run government now. And millionaires forget so soon what it’s like to be just a normal person on the street.

  3. Angela Smith via Facebook says:

    Overturn the “Citizens United” decision, and GET THE $$ OUT OF OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM!

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Angela, unfortunately Citizens isn’t even the problem we are seeing yet. They are just gearing up. The main movers so fare have been PAC’s funded by individuals like Newts’ Adelson ($10 Million so far, (And all that Newt did was say Palestinians didn’t exist) and Carl Roves Harold Simmons ($7 Mil and counting).

      These are individuals investing, I mean Donating, which has been legal for long time. Wait for the stench when the corporate money kicks in if you think it stinks now..

      • Linda says:

        And it isn’t even just these candidates. It has been going on for years. Hillary Clinton raised millions from minimum wage Chinese workers in NY. And these are only a handful. It gets much worse.

        It is throughout our entire system.

        Organizations may try and fund this massive power play, but the voters can end it, if they will just all show up for an election.

        EVERY MEMBER of the House of Representatives is up for reelection this year. Vote them out. But you won’t even do that.

  4. Doug Chozianin says:

    If the media were fair and balanced and reported the whole truth, less money would be required to run for office.

    (As an example, the photograph at the head of his article shows some starry-eyed teenagers fawning over Obama but not showing a chart highlighting 11% real unemployment, 45 million on food stamps, trillions of assets lost from home values and 401k retirement accounts, 99 weeks unemployment, record high gas, diesel and home heating oil prices, huge food and commodity inflation, 16 trillion in debt and rising, higher taxes when the Bush tax cuts disappear, largest corporate tax rate on the planet… the list goes on.

    It takes expensive TV ads to counter media bias to get the truth out.)

    When was the last time Flagler Live gave Obama an “anal exam”? (Feel free to use my partial Obama List of Grievances as a start.)

  5. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    The US isn’t a democracy anymore, because it never was in the first place. We’ve been a Republic since day one. Putting that aside, I always find articles like this interesting, especially in this case given the author’s background. Is our system perfect? Of course not, but where is a better system either in history or in present day found in the world? Many complain about the Citizens united ruling, as if before that all was well and there was no money in politics? Citizens united came in 2010, Barack Obama spent $750,000,000 (aka more money than any other candidate in history) on his 2008 Presidential election, the vast majority of which was spent on negative ads against Hillary Clinton, and then John McCain. This year he will spend $1billion on mostly negative ads. The fact that huge money is spent on politics is nothing new.

    One more point, the author is factually wrong on the following statement, and he knows it, but like the rest of the media, he likes to use the tax rate vrs actual amount of taxes paid “nuance” to promote his agenda; “[Romney] he’s the richest (and least-taxed) candidate in the race”. Romney actually paid more in federal income taxes last year, than all the other candidates combined. That doesn’t even factor in that he also donated more to charity than all other candidates combined (including Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden). One might also recall that John Kerry’s tax rate of 13.4% was rarely, if ever, mentioned in 2004. Evidently someone who marries a wealthy widow is entitled to pay low taxes, someone who earns it by himself, along the path of starting businesses and creating jobs, must be punished. Either that or tax rates only matter when we’re talking about Republicans.

    • Linda says:

      Key point here is democracy/republic WILL NOT FUNCTION unless supported by THE VOTERS.

      When you refuse to even bother to show up and vote, you create this.

      You have the best government when the government fears the people. Flip that government in a couple of elections and you will be shocked at the difference.

      Don’t allow the few elite to run your government; run it yourselves by voting. They are counting on you to stay home.

      • peggy says:

        linda, u r right on track. u have nailed it. i am paraphrasing here, but i think the quote is something like this , “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” i think we r at that place. i have lived here my entire life and do not remember anthing like this. unless people get off their asses and vote, fight, complain, take the bums to task, march on the governments, state & local, we are dead in the water.

  6. roco says:

    Voting for Obama will mean in four more years of disregard of the American people and an agenda to destroy us will make us a socialist country and broke. His goal since elected was to destroy the USA. If you people are that out of touch with whats going on here you start paying attention. This guy is scary and threatening. WAKE UP.

  7. Spartan says:

    At it again, ah Pierre ! Just can’t write an article unless it has to include your comments about Israel and how the palestinians are so oppressed. You don’t give a rat’s petunia about the USA.

  8. J. Rockwood says:

    No matter if our president is a Democrat or a Republican, we are slowly seeing the strength of our Constitution diminish.

    For the truth about our government, please watch this movie. It is produced by Jason Bermas, who also produced Loose Change.
    Here is the link:

  9. palmcoaster says:

    @Spartan. Pierre is correct. Palestinians lost their lands in 1948 to the Israeli settlement approved by UN, demanded by Britain and their allies at the end of WWII and have to be dealing with the short end of the stick ever since. If we would not have been interfering in favor of Israel since 1948 :
    and specially after the 6 Day War: we would have saved so many of our braves lives lost, as well as lots of tax payers trillions. Israelis are some of the richest people all over the world ., and if they have dual citizenship they are always funding Israel and is okay…. if we were not forced to fund them as well by our sold out to them, elected ones..
    Let them fund and sustain their own battles for their own interest. We need to take care of our own first here at home. No foreign aid no foreign wars to defend our “so called allies” interest, or the oil corporations or the war suppliers revenues. We need to help ourselves now. Enough is enough.

  10. palmcoaster says:

    @Roco.You need to let go of the Kool-Aid.

  11. NortonSmitty says:

    What does the Israeli’s Palestinian problem have to do with caring about the USA?

    I was going to talk about Obama being the Trojan Horse president and more, but it really doesn’t matter. Your vote is a distraction to make you think you have a choice. You don’t. Once again, I defer to The Master Carlin:

    And you may want to read up on a little Mormon scripture and history too. At least to find out if your votes will finally help find The One Mighty and Strong to fulfill the White Horse Prophesy. Look it up.

  12. the montecito says:

    No matter what you read, no matter what you hear, no matter what you agree or disagree, no matter what you must vote to change things. If you don’t vote then don’t complain.

    As far as the middle east? It’s always not as important as the United States of America and the USA will protect Israel, not that they can’t protect themselves.

  13. 777denny says:

    Mr. Obama was not vetted properly and neither is Mr. Romney, since I cannot find stories about his Mormon church and how it supports the PLO over Israel and posthumously baptizes mass murderers like Hitler and his henchmen, Communist dictators and other mass murderers before billions of other “Gentiles.” Does Mr. Romney want to own his very own planet one day as Mormonism teaches, while also demanding utter and absolute obedience to their “death vows” of silence about Tabernacle requirements on how to own your own planet. It is one thing to have a Mormon to just about anything OTHER than be POTUS, since their religion and their role with Israel and the claims they make about their inheritance there are questionable at best, and downright dangerous at most. And at this point, it looks as if Rick Santorum, instead of wanting to lead the Conservative movement to defeat RINO Romney, is now only ensuring that Conservatives have NO REAL VOTE this year. History may prove to be very rough on Rick Santorum, since he may well cost the Conservative movement any real chance at beating Obama and getting off the current road to Hell America is on. Thanks for nothing, Santorum!!! Go Newt!!!

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