We Have Been Robbed of the Two Necessities of Democracy
We as a society put in place protections for those who are vulnerable to scams run by scam artists who want to steal people’s money. We used to have in place protections against those who are vulnerable to the constant consumption of untruthful and low-quality news and information (DDOPE: distraction, distortion, omission, promotion, and erasure). We used to have in place protections against bad actors who sought to corrupt and steal our democratic elections. Aren’t the news and information people get and the elections people vote in just as important and vital — and sacred — as their money? How can this be happening under our noses? How can bad actors — billionaire elitists/oligarchists — be allowed to control/censor our news and information and steal our elections? Without a free press and free and democratic elections, there can be no justice or freedom, or democracy. These are such essential components of our democratic republic, that it cannot function as a democratic republic without them. They are to our democratic republic as the transmission and engine are to a car.
The mass media has been consolidated into six mega-corporations — an oligopoly, which is owned and controlled, ultimately, by a few billionaire oligarchs — and managed by the top execs they hire to run the mass media organizations. Our formerly democratic elections have fallen to the same few bad actors, who are now actually being allowed to BUY them. And all of this is being sanctioned by our Congress and Supreme Court justices — or more accurately, by the ruling majorities of those political entities. These conditions are the conditions of tyranny. The billionaire oligarchs are being allowed to throw huge amounts of money at the campaigns of politicians they want to buy and own, and they do buy and own them. They are being allowed to throw huge amounts of their money at initiatives and referendums they want to decide, and they do decide them — and always in their favor and against the interests of the people. This is all thoroughly rotten and corrupt, and thoroughly unconstitutional, and is happening every day under our noses.
There are 788 billionaires in the U.S. as of July, 2020. According to Worldometer, “The current population of the United States of America is 331,388,690 as of Saturday, September 12, 2020…” So, that means that only .0000238% of the U.S. population are billionaires. So, the reality is that we are being ruled by the .00002% (if we round off to the fifth decimal point), not the 1% — though, granted, “1%” is a figure that is a bit easier to say and remember. There are fewer billionaires in other countries, but still disproportionately high numbers in China, India, Germany, Russia, Brazil, UK, Canada, and Australia. There are fewer billionaires in the more democratic countries, such as those in some regions of Europe, such as Spain, Portugal, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, and certain other countries, such as Japan. In fact, the higher the level of democracy a country still enjoys, the fewer billionaires they have. One could say that the greater presence of billionaires by population is a symptom of dictatorship/oligarchy — which goes hand in hand with corruption — and the lack of billionaires is a symptom of democracy.
The U.S. Constitution DOES have in place protections against fake and controlled news, such as is generated by a controlled/censored press — by virtue of the fact that the First Amendment GUARANTEES freedom of the press, as well as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion, as well as the freedom to bring grievances to the attention of those in government. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Our liberty depends upon freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Despite the clear mandate of our Constitution for this sacred freedom, billionaire oligarchs have been allowed — bought the permission — to buy up and consolidate all of the mainstream media outlets — the only ones that have a great impact, as they’re the only ones that the vast majority of Americans “tune in to” — and thereby control them. And they do CONTROL AND CENSOR our news and information. And they do this in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. And the U.S. Congress, in passing bills, and the FCC, in altering regulations, under the Reagan and Clinton administrations, allowing the consolidation of the press into fewer and fewer hands, did so in violation of the First Amendment guarantee of a free press.
1981 [Reagan Presidency]
Reagan Administration deregulation under the leadership of FCC Chairman Mark Fowler. Deregulatory moves, some made by Congress, others by the FCC included extending television licenses to five years from three in 1981. The number of television stations any single entity could own grew from seven in 1981 to 12 in 1985.
1985 [Reagan Presidency]
Guidelines for minimal amounts of non-entertainment programming are abolished. FCC guidelines on how much advertising can be carried per hour are eliminated.
1987 [Reagan Presidency]
“Fairness Doctrine” eliminated. At its founding the FCC viewed the stations to which it granted licenses as “public trustee” — and required that they made every reasonable attempt to cover contrasting points of views.
1996 [Clinton Presidency]
President Clinton signs the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It is generally regarded as the most important legislation regulating media ownership in over a decade. The radio industry experiences unprecedented consolidation after the 40-station ownership cap is lifted.
— source: jamess. 2008, January 18. “Media Consolidation — brought to you by Reagan and Clinton.” dailykos.com. https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2008/1/18/439135/-
The U.S. Constitution also DOES have in place a mandate for free and fair, democratic elections. As Abraham Lincoln put it: “Elections belong to the people. It is their decision.” Or so it is supposed to be. The billionaire oligarchs, through their network of political organizations and bought-off government officials, after many decades of efforts at corrupting the process, finally succeeded in getting the U.S. Supreme Court packed with political “partisans” (who were called “conservatives,” but in reality, were just plain corrupt), who were willing to hand down decisions, which violated the constitutional mandate for free and fair, democratic elections. This packing of the Supreme Court with these “partisan” justices started with the Nixon presidency and continued with Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush administrations, till there was a majority of Supreme Court Justices who were willing to violate the Constitution they had taken an oath to uphold — and hand down decisions allowing the richest corporations (the billionaires who own them) to make contributions to political campaigns large enough to actually BUY elections and candidates. The main, corrupting Supreme Court decisions have been Buckley v. Valeo (1976), Citizens United v. The FEC (2010), and McCutcheon v. The FEC (2014).
The U.S. Congress, despite the calls from honest politicians like Bernie Sanders, has done little about this increased and thoroughly corrupting influence of big money in elections. The passage by state legislatures of a constitutional amendment to overturn the effects of these disastrous Supreme Court decisions is slowly progressing, and currently stands at 20 states — but with very little help from our now plutocratically elected government officials and our now plutocratically controlled and censored press. This amendment would be the antidote to the corruption of our elections: to take away the “right” unconstitutionally given to rich corporations to give virtually unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns — to once again allow the state and federal governments to impose limits on campaign contributions.
There is also no widespread call to break up the “Big 6,” mega-corporation oligopoly that controls the news most all Americans get — another patently unconstitutional condition. The antidote here, which would undo the damage the unconstitutional bills passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by Reagan and Clinton: break up the Big 6 into the same number of media outlets that existed prior to the bills that allowed for their “consolidation,” plus a factor to allow for the increase in the population, the number of viewers/consumers of the news and information, of the country since those times.
So what is the ultimate solution? What is the hope? The solution and the hope rest with the younger generations. They are, in general, more aware of these realities than are the older generations, as they did not grow up with a free press and trusting the press, or the media. Also, younger people have had access from a young age to alternative news sources via the Internet, which they use much more than those in the older generations. Young people are so much more open-minded and well-informed, in general, and more politically active than older people are. The hope is that the younger generations will lead the way out of the outrageously unconstitutional conditions we are now living under. The current protests against the injustices of police targeting of and violence against African-Americans is a good start. Certainly these are injustices and oppression that must be confronted and opposed. Now if only the younger generations would take up political activism, including protesting, to restore our freedom of the press and our free elections. These are fundamental to our democracy. Without them, there can be no justice or freedom, or democracy.
jamess. 2008, January 18. “Media Consolidation — brought to you by Reagan and Clinton.” dailykos.com. https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2008/1/18/439135/-
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). 7/17/2015. “Campaign Finance and the Supreme Court.” https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/campaign-finance-and-the-supreme-court.aspx
Shleifer, Theodore. 2020, July 1. “America has almost 800 billionaires, a record high.” Vox. https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/7/1/21308816/billionaires-record-america-world-wealthx
Wordometers. 2020, September 12. “United States Population (LIVE).” https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/us-population/We Have Been Robbed of the Two Necessities of Democracy