And the loser is Democracy, by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog
The majority of eligible American voters did not vote in the 2014 midterm elections. As a matter of fact, according to the US News & World Report almost two-thirds of the people who could cast ballots chose not to vote. In this election, as in many midterm elections, the electorate chose not to elect and in the process the balance of power shifted in the Legislative Branch of the US Congress. Is this the outcome the majority wanted? Why do so many people refuse to vote when democracy is supposed to be the most important part of our society?
With so many close elections, it is clear that a vote by more than 50 per cent of the people in any given state could have changed the outcome. In fact surveys show that of non voters the vast majority were Democrats. Why did they abdicate their authority when so much was at stake?
One of the things that make the rule by the few even more perplexing is the results of the many ballot referendum nationwide versus the candidates who were elected. Voters in large numbers across many states supported ballot initiatives for what are largely Democratic supported positions. Those same states, however, turned increasingly to candidates who opposed those issues. Are we so uneducated that we vote for candidates who do not actually hold our views and who will indeed vote against what we want?
In no state was the seeming paradox more striking than in Illinois.
The Huffington Post pointed out “The Irony Of Illinois Election Results Is Hard To Ignore.” The few who voted strongly supported a rise in the minimum wage (as do most voters according to pollsters), yet the champion of minimum wage lost the election to a billionaire businessman who is not only against the raise, but indicated to one audience he did not think we should have a minimum wage.
The ballot referendum that passed in Illinois will find no support with the new governor.
Why were voters turned off by the elections? Why did the voters who came to the polls vote the way they did? Attack ads seem to hold the key. It matters little where you live, you likely saw or heard a glut of attack ads. This year an estimated 3.67 billion dollars were spent on political ads according to Mother Jones (MJ) website. The same number is widely reported elsewhere. The ads seem to work, but why so many?
In Kentucky, for example, Mitch McConnell who is now set to be Senate Majority leader was about as popular as President Obama in February. In other words, his approval rating was in the tank. Nevertheless, he won reelection and should move on to a very powerful position.
What happened? Attack ads happened. Afraid of losing the senate seat, a power political PAC without the same restrictions as candidates, got behind McConnell and outspent his opponent who was leading in the polls at one time. The mud-slinging PAC dirtied the Democrat via 12,000 TV ads state-wide. The so-called independent PAC is run by a former McConnell aide according to the MJ website and hauled down money from some powerful people.
In all “outside PACs” spent an estimated $301,000,000 this year, but that’s nothing compared to the total. We will never know what the real total is because of “Dark Money.” Politifact.com says there is no way to tell the real amount spent by organizations who keep their donors anonymous. They report these groups include “trade associations, unions and nonprofit social welfare organizations like the Koch brothers-founded Americans for Prosperity.”
Not long ago we ran a “cautionary tale” about two brothers who put together an organization to essentially buy elections and hold power over America by the candidates they supported. It was a work of fiction, but consider the reality. It is estimated the Koch brothers together spent 300 million dollars of their fortune on this election alone. Was it successful? MJ website credits them with an 85 percent return on investment. Even at that, why would anyone set out to buy the Senate. What is in it for them?
The long-delayed Keystone Pipeline may now get approved by a Congress favorable to such a project.
The controversial project could be a windfall for the Koch Brothers. According to the Huffington Post, they could benefit by 100 billion dollars. Yes, you read that right. 100 billion! So, voters, do you feel used? You non-voters, do you regret passing up the chance to make your voice heard?
We have seen 9 months of continuous job growth. The stock market is close to 10,000 points higher than it was when Obama took office. Inflation is low, powered by a significant drop in gas prices.
Not having to spend so much hauling goods keeps prices down too. The banking industry was saved, so was one of the America’s largest employers, the auto industry. Yet we voted against the President and returned to power the Congress the party who was there when the economy tanked. We will not even go into the war we fought under somewhat questionable reasoning.
Why America? Why? We eagerly await your comments below.