Is there any way to stop this? Is there any way to fight back? After all, if the wealthy can buy the legislature, how can the legislature regulate the wealthy?
But look more closely: what does big money in politics really do? It goes to campaigns who spend it on television commercials, that seem to have a diminishing impact on how people vote. A lot of modern campaigning is a money flow: big donors give money to candidates who give that money over to the campaign consultants who create and place television commercials with media companies. For a media mogul like Jack Welch, owner of GE and NBC, it is a perfect circle.
Is there any series of television commercials imaginable that could have persuaded you to vote differently in the 2012 elections?
For almost all readers of this and other blogs, the answer is "no". Your vote was not in play, by any sort of TV commercials.
Why? It's not just because you are educated and informed and interested, although that is part of it. What seems crucial is that you have made decisions, long before the election itself, that guide your participation in the political sphere. You decided who you were, and what people like you need, and who your allies were in the public sphere. You had come to a conclusion about your own interests and loyalties. And you had become convinced that political participation mattered to your interests and loyalties.
There is nothing more powerful than a made-up mind.
In addition, we have reached a tipping point at which enough white voters have identified their interests and allies sufficiently to know that they need to vote with the emerging multi-racial bloc to meet their needs. They, too, are made-up minds.
The counter-weight to the political power of big money are the millions of made-up minds who know that the interests of the super-wealthy are not the same as theirs.
Liberal reformers are pessimistic because they underestimate the potential for the 99% to make up their minds sufficiently to neutralize the power of big money in politics. They tend to think that the many are too gullible, too uninterested, too easily manipulated to figure out the brutal facts of life.
We need to worry less about limiting the power of big money, and more about the making up of minds.