When Big Money Controls Big Media, There’s a Big Decline in Democracy
The authors look for solutions in the best practices of other democratic nations and America's own history of progressive reform. They recommend full public financing of elections, subsidies for democracy-sustaining independent journalism, and a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling that the First Amendment allows unlimited political spending by corporations, associations, and labor unions.
It's impossible to read Dollarocracy without thinking of the revolutionary pamphleteer Thomas Paine. With flashes of rhetoric that could have been written in 1776—"The time has come, finally, for citizens to burst the chains and to assume the blessings and security of self-government"—Dollarocracy is an inspiring polemic of the first order.
If there is a weakness in the book, it is the authors' refusal to make even a grudging concession to groups like the American Civil Liberties Union who worry that spending caps on independent political advocacy constitute an abridgment of free speech. This lapse notwithstanding, Nichols and McChesney have renewed a serious discussion on the role money plays in U.S. electoral politics.
It can be said, without any risk of hyperbole, that Dollarocracy is essential reading for every citizen concerned with maintaining government by and for the people.
David Kortava wrote this review for Education Uprising, the Spring 2014 issue of YES! Magazine. David is a freelance journalist based in New York City. He holds a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University.
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