America’s Defining Moment

Photo courtesy of Reuters


We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.

— Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

Below, is an excerpt from Part II of Our Revolution: A Future to Believe in by Bernie Sanders. You may have your own views of the 75-year old Jewish Senator from Vermont, but below is a leading example of the massive ineptitude and disintegration of the American political establishment.

Foremost, I believe it directly represents the most deep rooted issue in our country that must be fixed before any real change can occur.

Sanders writes:

“Over the last 230 years we have made significant progress in making our country a more democratic and inclusive society. We have made significant progress breaking down barriers of race, gender, class, and age in terms of giving all Americans an equal voice in governing their country. In fact, the many struggles to expand the right to vote have been at the very heart of the American experience. They define who we are as a people.

Even though we have far to go to “perfect our democracy,” sadly, today, there are people of incredible wealth and power who, instead of moving forward, want to undo the progress we have made and roll back the clock of history. These oligarchs are threatened by what ordinary people can accomplish through the democratic process. In order to protect their vast financial holdings, they utilize their incredible resources to make us a less democratic society.

They want more power for themselves, and less power for ordinary Americans. While they don’t announce their intentions on the front pages of newspapers, their goal is clear. They want to move our country toward an oligarchic form of society in which almost all economic and political power rests with a handful of multibillionaire families. They are not content with controlling most of our economy and owning an outlandish percentage of our national wealth. Now they want to own our government as well. They want to make it virtually impossible for ordinary Americans to make the changes necessary to improve their lives.

Tragically, they are succeeding. Our democracy, the ability of ordinary people to shape their own future, is becoming weaker and weaker every day. 

As a result of the Supreme Court’s disastrous 5-4 Citizens United decision of 2010, pushed by legal organizations funded by powerful special interests and Republican leaders, the wealthiest people in this country, and the largest corporations, can now spend unlimited sums of money on “independent expenditures.”

In America today, instead of one person, one vote and equal voice for all, we are seeing a small group of extraordinarily wealthy people pump billions of dollars into the political process to buy elections for politicians who will be beholden to them.”

Let’s not be naive, the corrupting influence of big money in our elections and our politics has always been a huge problem in our country. Until our government leaders pass real campaign finance reform and remove big money from politics, we will never have a government that represents ordinary Americans.

With that being said, the question still remains…

Are we a country that more closely resembles democracy or oligarchy?


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