The problem is not that these wealthy families are providing most of the campaign funding, thus calling the shots, it is that the shots that they are calling do not benefit the vast majority of Americans.
Some people currently in policy-making positions base many of their decisions on self-interests, experts say.
“Our country, in many respects has been taken over, whether it’s capitalists or politicians, by a lot of psychopaths,” Stephan Clyburn, professor of political science at West Chester University, said.
According to Clyburn, those in power can range from the podiums of Washington to behind the desks of big businesses. Regardless of where they reside, they both hold immense power in political decisions.
“It’s the politician who tries to play both sides of the issue, and tells every audience what they want to hear,” Clyburn said. “It’s the capitalist who only cares about accumulating wealth and doesn’t care about the impact of his or her behavior on society as a whole.”
Like Clyburn, Lawrence Noble, general counsel at The Campaign Legal Center, holds similar views about those currently making policy decisions.
“If you define evil as being purely self-motivated, not caring about what happens to the rest of society–yes, there are a lot of people out there like that,” Noble said.
Noble uses this definition of evil to describe those who use money to dictate what policies to enact. He dubs this practice “free market politics.”
“Free market politics means that those with money feel as though they can buy all the politicians they want because they know how to run the government,” Noble said. “But that’s not what democracy is all about.”
Clyburn and Noble’s views mirror much of the American public’s.
According to Pew Research, 74 percent of Americans believe that most elected officials put own interests ahead of the country’s, and only 19 percent trust the government always or most of the time.
“I think what not being talked about, what’s not being recognized, is just how grotesquely our democracy has been wrecked,” Lessig said.
The two most malevolent ways that our current political system perpetuates this cycle of wealth inequality and maintains the status quo is through unethical campaign financing and voting injustices.