Plutocracy vs. Democracy

By: Wiha Powell

In this upcoming election, one of the major issues that the United States faces is the emergence of powerful plutocratic corporations. These corporations have significantly influenced the political and democratic process of this country by making a substantial amount of contributions to political campaigns and officials, which has in turn halted the defense of public interest.

This issue has become more pertinent since the early 2010 Supreme Court ruling of Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission. The Court ruled that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate election could not be limited due to the protection of corporations having free speech under the First Amendment. Before Citizens United, there was a restriction on how the wealthy minority/corporations influenced our political system, but after the ruling that restriction was no longer. As a result, the issue of plutocracy versus democracy has emerged in our society. Even though many senators and congressman have addressed the issue of special interest and soft money corruption in our political system, it will be later ignored to further personal political agendas.

The philosophy of the United States has been driven by the notion of democracy. Democracy according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary can be defined as “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.” On the other hand, plutocracy is defined as “government by the wealthy.” The critical question that should be a major concern to many Americans is whether the U.S. has already become a plutocratic country, if so, what can be done to put an end to it?

Within a few years, the United States has fallen victim to the virtually unchallenged growth of corporate power where mergers and acquisitions continue at an extremely fast pace, small and mid-size businesses and farms are disappearing, independent doctors, lawyers and accountants are being gobbled up by large firms and the working class people are currently at the mercy of huge global conglomerates that are constantly downsizing as they export jobs overseas.

Moreover, big corporations such as oil, tobacco, insurance and financial companies are making generous campaign contributions, while lobbyists undermine Congress and states’ legislative integrity by procuring influence and votes. A great example of this is big banks and credit card companies charging exorbitant interest rates and using deceptive marketing practices to swindle millions of gullible customers, or having major corporations, such as the automakers, reducing retirement benefits with little or no political opposition.

Furthermore, the issue of plutocratic corporation has largely being ignored by the mass media and with media-ocracy at the ultimate high within the United States, powerful media conglomerates have virtually dominated and often manipulate the news information given to the public. Instead of reporting on political abuse, the media has become a part of the political abuse. However, there are only a few media companies that have individuals with dissenting views that are heard by the public.

Unlike plutocracy, a democratic government, the foundation of which the United States was built, is where all citizens directly through election freely elect representatives that protect citizens’ rights, practice institutionalization freedom and exercise power with civic responsibility. Furthermore, elections in a democratic government should be fair and cannot be a façade, which is having big corporations hide behind elected officials

The U.S. political system has transformed from a democracy and adopted a plutocracy system. Even though our political leaders are concealing that the U.S. democratic system has changed drastically and is now currently in favor of a plutocracy system, this concealment is hard to hide from the public because plutocracy is at the hallmark of the current economic disparity that the United States is facing. Our current government has become a system where wealthy corporations can heavily influence the government and have can put millions of dollars toward their vested interests which promote their policies to enhance their situations.

In answering the question, what can be done, many experts and specialists would assert that there is a structural problem with the U.S. economy that has prevented it from having a quick recovery. The solution these experts have, which is good, but does not solve the problem, is that there is a lack of demand.  This could be easily adjusted by combining fiscal and monetary stimulus. However, the real problem that the United States faces is the structural problem of our political system.  Since the ruling of Citizens United, our political system has been twisted, distorted and paralyzed by the power of the small wealthy minority. Therefore, the solution to have our economy recover and ultimately return the United States back to a democratic system, lies in finding a way to get past the small wealthy/corporate minority’s negative and adverse influence. Once this is accomplished, the United States will return to the people, which is the very motto and foundation of this democratic nation.


2 thoughts on “Plutocracy vs. Democracy

  1. Sponsorship in aggregate is the problem, it is censorship. Commercial speech is the problem. Sponsorship is what makes lobbying possible, it acts as a filter and undermines representation. People lose their politcal voice and become subjugated by wealth. That people can vote themselves a share of the wealth is the essence of democracy. It amounts to power sharing and a check on destabilizing amounts of inequity.


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