Before the midterms, digby wrote this prophetic afterthought at the end of one of her posts:
But then these news outlets are all making huge profits from the right wing buy out of our democracy, so maybe it's just the price of doing business.
In this week's The Nation, there's a great article about the emergent money-media complex and the impact it has not only on our elections, but on how issues and politicians are presented by the corporate media who stand to gain much from the megabucks spent on elections.
To some extent, this is a story as old as the nation itself. Founding father John Jay thought "those who own the country ought to govern it." The battle to establish a credible system of "one person, one vote" instead of "one dollar, one vote" has been a running theme in American history. The stakes have always been the same: the less democratic our elections, the more corrupt our governance. But the current moment sees the country accelerating toward the edge of a cliff. "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both," observed Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. America is being put to the Brandeis test: democracy or plutocracy. The money-and-media election complex is creating a radically different electoral landscape than anything Americans have known since the Gilded Age. That landscape is characterized, pundits tell us, by an "enthusiasm gap." No kidding. Americans are not stupid. They knew their relatively paltry contributions, and even their votes, were unlikely to stop a $4 billion onslaught. To those bankrolling the system, voter cynicism and apathy are welcome. The more that the 2008 surge of youth participation in electoral politics dissipates, the better for them. Their interests are best served by narrowing the range of debate and participation, since that makes it easier to buy the government. As much as commentators like Jon Meacham might want to believe that "we are now living with a political class which has a financial and cultural interest in conflict rather than in governing," the hard truth is that we have a corporate class that funds electoral conflict for the purpose of forging a political class that will govern in its interest
Our skewed and cynical election process takes a toll on those most committed to those who fight hardest for ethical and open elections.
The emerging money-and-media election complex is perfectly designed to make participants conform or suffer the consequences. It should come as no surprise that some of the most troubling results of 2010 involved the defeats of independent players of both parties who had battled hardest for clean politics and ethical government—Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, the leading progressive Democratic reformer, was defeated, as was Representative Mike Castle, a moderate Republican beaten in Delaware's GOP Senate primary by Tea Party heroine Christine O'Donnell. Nor should it get better in 2012. "It's a bigger prize in 2012, and that's changing the White House," says Robert Duncan, chair of American Crossroads. "We've planted the flag for permanence, and we believe we will play a major role for 2012."