Power in the United States is, like everything else in the United States, a commodity that can be bought and sold. Since the election of Richard Nixon in 1968 every single presidential election has been won by the candidate with the most funding. Russell Brand has a point when he says that voting has become pointless, and recent research has shown that increased political donations to the political right act as a check on the demographic forces that have been moving public support to the left and left-leaning economic policies. Sixty percent of the US electorate are in favour of a reduction in the gap between the rich and poor, and this swing in opinion may be motivating the super-rich to open their wallets.
Other than the corporations and industrial lobby groups, it is interesting to see that private individuals have started to increase their political donations. More than half of the cash donated to the candidates for the 2016 presidential election has come from private donors. What is most interesting is that of the 319 million people living in the United States all of this money has come from just 158 people. They are all male, white, billionaires, and they are predominately the owners of energy and financial firms. Both of these industries stand to lose the most from progressive taxation and government spending in the social services and health, so it stands to reason that they should spend some cash to save some cash – at the expense of the poor.
It is against this background of politico-financial class war that it must be considered that these private donators are the chief beneficiaries of the economic and political forces which are acting to widen the income gap. What has been seen over the past twenty years in the States is a shrinking of the share of the national wealth to the working and middle classes, while in the same period the share going to these 158 people has more than doubled. The largest donors from this group are those in finance, and it is interesting to note that from 1979 the one-tenth of one percent of Americans working in this sector have more than quintupled their slice of the national income. All that stands in the way of these people further increasing their wealth – and further impoverishing everyone else – is the political system. It might just work some day, and they don’t intend letting that happen.