4. Money politics brings serious consequences.
First, money politics deprives ordinary people of their political rights. Although the United States often shows off its “one person, one vote” US-style democracy, the reality is that the voting rights of low-income US citizens are severely restricted. As reported by U.S. News & World Report, from 2010 to 2015, 21 states in the United States formulated new laws restricting voting rights, and 14 states implemented new measures to restrict the exercise of voting rights in the 2016 presidential election. The main purpose of these laws and measures was to prevent the poor from registering to vote. As reported by the website of Newsweek on November 21, 2017, thousands of US citizens have been deprived of their voting rights because of poverty. Nine states in the United States have passed legislation depriving the citizens in arrears with attorney fees or court fines of the right to vote. In Alabama alone, more than 100,000 US citizens in arrears have been removed from the voter list, accounting for approximately three percent of the state’s voter population. This has led to a lower turnout in US elections. The turnout rate slumped to its lowest level since the 1940s during the 2014 US midterm election, where the national average turnout rate was only 37 percent.
Second, government posts have become exclusive for rich people and the upper class. According to the US political practices, after winning an election, the elected candidate will usually reward those persons who have made significant contributions to the election campaign, such as major donors and fundraisers, with government posts. After taking office, the newly elected US president will usually appoint a group of major donors as ambassadors. After the 2000 presidential election, one-third of the new positions in the government were taken over by relatives, friends, and major donors of the winning president. Among the 556 “super fundraisers” who supported the winning president in the 2008 presidential election campaign, one-third of them obtained government posts or became consultants in the then administration, and 80 percent of the fundraisers who raised more than $500,000 obtained important positions.
Third, money politics is blatantly delivering benefits to the rich. A negative consequence of political contributions is that the rich people, who are fewer in number, have greater influence than the vast majority of the people, leading to the formulation of government policies that benefit the rich and harm the interests of the poor. As money affects legislation and government decisions, the rich people can make politicians serve them through campaign donations and promises of the return of benefits and legislate on their behalf. The presidents and administrations elected with the help of money will definitely favor the rich when formulating policies, and they will openly or implicitly pass on benefits to the rich. This is a disguised transaction of money and power. It is a well-known fact that the Republican administration taking office in 2017 is an administration representing the rich class of the United States. The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), adopted by the US Congress in 2017, claimed to reduce taxes, but it was not aimed to carry out an across-the-board tax cut. The FUTA has only cut taxes for the rich class and large corporations. It has even increased taxes for the poor people. Under the FUTA, the income tax rate for rich families has been greatly reduced from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, a significant reduction of 4.6 percentage points, and the income tax rate for the poorest families has been increased from 10 percent to 12 percent. That is how this Act has benefited the richest families while harming the economic interests of the poorest families. A Gallup poll conducted at the end of 2017 showed that 56 percent of US citizens surveyed opposed the FUTA, and only 29 percent supported it. As to corporate tax, the FUTA reduced the income tax rate of joint-stock companies, such as large corporations and listed companies, from 35 percent to 20 percent, a remarkable reduction of 15 percentage points. Nevertheless, only 8.6 percent of the US enterprises can benefit from this tax reduction policy, and about 90 percent of the US companies, which are small enterprises such as sole-proprietorship enterprises and partnership enterprises, cannot benefit from it. Under the FUTA, owners of these small enterprises may have to pay personal income tax at the top rate, which is 37 percent, and only 20 percent deduction can be calculated on their taxable income. Money politics erodes social equality and fundamentally undermines social justice in the United States.
Fourth, money politics makes it more difficult for the United States to solve its pressing political and social problems. In the United States, the proliferation of guns and gun violence are major political and social problems, which have plagued US society for many years. Mass shooting incidents in schools and other public places frequently occur. Every year in the United States, more than 30,000 people die from homicides, accidents, and suicides caused by guns; more than 10,000 people die from gun violence; and more than 200,000 people are injured by guns. Most of these deaths and injuries would have been avoided if guns had been strictly controlled during these years. Nevertheless, interest groups such as the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), who oppose gun control, have successfully disrupted the governmental gun control efforts by participating in elections and lobbying. These interest groups have made significant political contributions to the US presidential and congressional elections. They donated $113 million through PACs between 2010 and 2018 alone. The NRA is the main anti-gun control organization in the United States and the most influential outside lobbying organization in the country. Its annual operating expenses are as high as $250 million, and this number will increase in a campaign year. Due to the large amount of money they have invested, the anti-gun control interest groups represented by the NRA have achieved great success and thwarted nearly all the gun control bills, further relaxing US gun control.
Money politics exposes the nature of US society and the lies of the United States when it is praising itself as the best example of exercising democracy and safeguarding human rights for the world. “US-style democracy” is the democracy of the rich people and the capitalists. It seldom benefits the lower classes of US society. The democratic rights stipulated in the US Constitution can only be enjoyed by the people who have enough money in their pockets. In the United States, where money governs politics, political participation and discussions can never be actualized without the help of money. Money politics has ruthlessly crushed “US-style democracy”.