The ideals of democracy are completely forgone in modern day elections, in which it is only the quantum of dollars that is spent on marketing and advertising campaigns that win elections for leaders, and not their personal ideologies and principles on how to run a country successfully. There were times in certain part of the world during which illiterate, penniless politicians have won elections without even running a campaign. Time has changed, and so are the ways people perceive their leaders.As Al-Gore terms it as ‘The Assault on Reason’, modern day inventions like television, mobile phones, and the internet are successful in making people perceive a virtual reality that doesn’t exist at all. As destined to bring progress to the society, these technologies are proving themselves anti-democratic by favouring the wealthy in spreading the message, which they deem to be true.
The wealthy, along with the power they wield, should also possess some responsibility of creating an equal society, by making democracy the fulcrum of the society. Instead, they spend their responsibility through campaign contributions in making the society more unequal under the covers of democracy. There is software and managed services available that can market, manage and win elections for candidates.
Thus, an election is not a battleground for ideologies to contest but a competitive flexing of financial muscles by the super rich, to hold the strings of the dolls that can shape public policies in their favour. The super rich include the anomalous minds that control FIRE (Finance, Investment, Real Estate and Energy) sectors, which spend billions of dollars to make up the common minds choose one among those programmed dolls. As Adlai Stevenson, Democratic Presidential candidate in 1956 noted, Presidential candidates are being sold like breakfast cereals, and this could be the worst indignity that we as human society could show towards the ethics of democracy.
Among FIRE, Finance sector including the Wall Street giants is the major campaign contributor that has spent more than $5 billion dollars during the last decade in its bid to purchase the Capitol Hill power. During the similar period, Citigroup has spent $108 million, Merrill Lynch $68 million, JP Morgan Chase $65 million, Goldman Sachs $46 million and Bank of America $39 million in lobbying political influence.
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the large corporations can spend any huge amount of money in campaign contributions to influence political parties or candidates, which resulted in a deluge of funds from the corporate, especially the Wall Street, so that it can function independent of any restrictions, as it hates being regulated by anyone in the world.
This power of finance is lubricated by the advancement in technology that offers more avenues to the wealthy to target the common masses. The function of technology is to mesmerize people and make them think what they have been asked to think.
Spending on online advertising for US Elections 2016 is expected to quadruple to $1 billion, reports Reuters, while TV advertising remains a major effective strategy in reaching people. 61% of the millennials receive their political news on Facebook. Thus, all it requires is a paid Facebook campaign that can inform customized political news to the young generation. The billionaire Koch brothers own a data firm i360 that helps candidates with data about voters and their behaviour. i360 rolled out its canvassing app in 2014. Other similar firms are Voter Gravity, founded by Republican Ned Ruyan and National Builder.
Thus, the resources, tools and means to shape public opinion are with the most powerful of the society. The power of analysis and intellectual acumen is sucked off by television and recently the internet due to mobile phones, as they are gimmicks that are used to distract people’s attention from the most pressing needs and the political inability to resolve them. Thus, people are pushed into a fancy world, where elections too are fanciful.
There is a lot of science that goes beyond this form of advertising or marketing campaigns. The more frequently a user is presented with an information, the more likely is he enticed to show interest. Voter behaviour is studied and customized information is presented to them that appeals to their behaviour. Had this time and resources been spent on burning issues, we could have been easily a better society. This has assured our politicians the needlessness to work for their people and to concentrate on the marketing campaigns that would bring them success.
It is the super rich that are behind everything under this scenario. They pay the candidates they prefer to influence decisions and the candidates in turn influence the public with unrealistic promises. Thus, not just the politicians, but even the public have become dolls at the hands of the super rich.
Related Video: Lessig: ‘Unlimited Campaign Contributions Are Corrupt’
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