- Take Action
- Latest News
- About Us
- Why Donate?
Is it real grassroots democracy, or is it corporate "astroturf," the appearance of democracy bought and paid for with millions of dollars from wealthy special interests? Unfortunately, it's astroturf.
The marriage and merger of PR and politics over the past two decades has spawned scores of PR/lobby firms that can (given enough cash) create the appearance of citizen involvement, while in fact driving genuine grassroots activism into the far dark corner, drowning it out of the political debate.
The current U.S. political process is a sham, a disgrace and dangerous to democracy. What used to involve citizens now primarily involves wealthy individuals and interest groups; the citizenry simply votes, and then only a minority of those eligible.
This may seem an extreme assessment, but it's easily documented by a mountain of sad but solid statistics that confirm the steadily increasing cost of running for office; the demise of face-to-face candidate appearances and debates; and the funding of most campaigns by a small number of rich individuals and groups that provide most of the billions now spent on elections.
Efforts to reform the process are caught in the most hellish of Catch-22s. Incumbent politicians are part of a two-party monopoly that benefits from the process, yet they are the officials in charge of deciding whether to pass campaign finance reforms that would eliminate the corrupt advantages that won them their power.
How bad can it get? Unfortunately, much worse. Media pundits chide the public for failing to clean up the process, ignoring the gulf that separates the public from the levers of power. Of course, media corporations are not disinterested parties. Many of the billions spent on elections land in their coffers, paying for the barrage of brief and often nasty and misleading advertisements from candidates and interest groups.
As this election subsides, and the predictable results are tallied (most incumbents will be re-elected, spending records will be shattered, a stay-at-home-don't-vote majority will be larger than ever), remember that for political operatives the campaign frenzy continues behind the scenes. It is carried on daily through the astroturf activities described in this issue.
This ain't democracy, folks; it ain't even close.