Rich people have their interests represented in politics because there’s a lot of money on the line for them to do so. Just like addicts want drugs, rich people want that influence. And they get it. The evidence is all around us. Corporations are literally writing the laws which regulate their industries.
You can tell rich people own the political process because they’re the only ones who got bailed out in the last financial crisis. You can tell rich people run this game because laundering billions of dollars for known terrorists will get you a small fine while not reporting $1 million in bitcoin will get you house arrest.
The system under which we live fines judges for sentencing people to prison for using drugs while she is high on drugs. It steals people’s houses and gives them to pharmaceutical companies. It steals people cars without charging them with a crime.
That doesn’t mean the poor and middle class don’t sometimes get their way. Handouts, from entitlements to the mortgage interest tax deduction, help keep people pacified. But they’re handed out in lieu of real reform.
Campaign finance reform comes down to arguing about who gets to decide who gets to be umpire of a game which is, at its core, rigged. And it’s rigged in favor of the rich. Electoral politics is mostly cage matches in the gladiator arena they use to distract us. It’s the circus, and entitlements are the bread.
Lawrence Lessig’s plan to use different rich white guys to decide who’s runs this disgusting system won’t get anything accomplished. But at least it’s voluntary. Usually campaign finance reform amounts to free speech violations and policies aimed at protecting incumbents.
Ultimately, the problem isn’t that there’s too much money in politics. It might be that there’s too much politics in money. But it’s mostly that there’s too much politics, period.