America: Democracy or Plutocratic Polyarchy?

Posted on October 6, 2010 by

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The best democracy money can buy. Is America a democracy or a plutocratic polyarchy?

Interest-group spending for midterm up fivefold from 2006; many sources secret

(Source: Washington Post)

By T.W. Farnam and Dan Eggen

Article Highlights:

  • “Interest groups are spending five times as much on the 2010 congressional elections as they did on the last midterms, and they are more secretive than ever about where that money is coming from.”
  • The bulk of the money is being spent by conservatives, who have swamped their Democratic-aligned competition by 7 to 1 in recent weeks.
  • $80 million has been spent so far by groups outside the Democratic and Republican parties dwarfs
  • Compare this with the $16 million spent at this point for the 2006 midterms. In the 2006 elections, over 90% of the money was disclosed as well as the identities of the donors
  • In this election,  that figure has fallen to less than half of the total
  • One of biggest spenders is a little-known Iowa group called the American Future Fund, which has spent $7 million on behalf of Republicans in more than two dozen House and Senate races.
  • The Republican Party has benefited by this additional spending as it enables them to choose which races to focus on.
  • Who do you have to thank for all this? The Supreme Court: “The Supreme Court cleared the way for unlimited spending by corporations, unions and other interest groups on election ads in its 5 to 4 decision this year inCitizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Many interest groups are organized as nonprofits, which are not required to disclose their financial backing, helping fuel the increase in secret donors.”
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