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Dollarocracy: How the Money-and-Media Election Complex Is Destroying Americaby John Nichols
Synopses & Reviews
In the 2012 elections, $10 billion will be spent trying to buy your vote. In Dollarocracy, media scholar Robert W. McChesney and acclaimed journalist John Nichols show how elections are becoming controlled, predictable enterprises, managed by a new class of consultants wielding hundreds of millions of dollars and defining our politics as never before. As the money gets bigger — especially after the new Supreme Court Citizens United ruling — and journalism, a core check and balance on the government, declines, American democracy is in peril as never before. Democrats and Republicans squabble and chase money from the same sources, and the legislative agenda is supplanted by a new Media-Election Complex accountable only to moneyed shareholders.
Consider these shocking facts: Of the 53 competitive House districts where Karl Rove and his compatriots backed Republicans with independent” money exceeding those made on behalf of Democrats — often by more than $1 million per district — the Republicans won 51. During the midterm elections, over $2 billion flowed into TV and radio, making up two thirds of all campaign spending, which now accounts for as much as 20% of these stations budgets (up from 3% in the 90s), giving them a strong incentive to limit their own political coverage. More than 200 newspapers have shut down since 2007 with over 38,000 employees fired and political coverage vastly reduced. In Dollaracracy McChesney and Nichols show how not just our politics but every aspect of our lives is being transformed by the decline of democracy. They predict that a 10-billion-dollar election cycle will place Americans as spectators on the sidelines of a political process dominated by corporate interests. With reporting from the frontlines and staggering new research, Dollarocracy will expose the crisis that politicians and pundits dare not discuss, concluding with a call to action, and offering concrete suggestions so that we can rescue and restore our republic.
"Nichols and McChesney (coauthors of The Death and Life of American Journalism and cofounders of Free Press, a media reform group) are both despairing and hopeful in this incisive account of what they see as corporate America's hijacking of the election process. While the billion spent in the 2012 presidential election was unprecedented, America's plutocrats have long been determined to make their vote count. Though contesting this trend is a deeply rooted American tradition, it's troubling to read about dismantled restrictions against corporate dominance, beginning with Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell who, in 1978, laid the groundwork for the problematic 2011 Citizens United decision. As the authors note, unchecked out-of-state donations ensure that elected officials hold no loyalty to their constituents. Their examination of media involvement proves less precise. It remains unclear whether they are positing that media conglomerates collude with business by narrowing coverage in order to rake in billions in political advertising, allow advertising to drive the story, or roll over and play dead. The hopefulness here is in the authors' prescription: encouraging the growing movement to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United; a call for more robust public broadcasting; and an appeal to make voting a Constitutional guarantee. They conclude with a fervent call to all citizens to 'refuse to be ridden by a booted, and spurred favored few.' Agent: Sandra Dijkstra, the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
With this book, John Nichols and Bob McChesney invite Americans to examine the challenges facing America in new ways, and to fully recognize the threat that the combination of big money and big media poses to the promise of self-government. They paint a daunting picture, rich in detail based on intense reporting and groundbreaking research. But they do not offer us a pessimistic take. Rather, they call us, as Tom Paine did more than two centuries ago, to turn knowledge into power. And they tell us that we can and must respond to our contemporary challenges as a nation by rejecting the Dollarocracy and renewing our commitment to democracy.” United States Senator Bernie Sanders
"Incisive....[A] fervent call to all citizens." Publishers Weekly
"An alarming, not-incorrect diagnosis." Kirkus Reviews
"John Nichols and Bob McChesney make a compelling, and terrifying, case that American democracy is becoming American dollarocracy. Even more compelling, and hopeful, is their case for a radical reform agenda to take power back from the corporations and give it to the people."Naomi Klein
In the wake of the Citizens United decision, elections will be controlled by moneyed interests as never before. Award-winning authors John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney show what this influx of cash with zero transparency means for democracy — and how we
Fresh from the first $10 billion election campaign, two award-winning authors show how unbridled campaign spending defines our politics and, failing a dramatic intervention, signals the end of our democracy.
Blending vivid reporting from the 2012 campaign trail and deep perspective from decades covering American and international media and politics, political journalist John Nichols and media critic Robert W. McChesney explain how US elections are becoming controlled, predictable enterprises that are managed by a new class of consultants who wield millions of dollars and define our politics as never before. As the money gets bigger — especially after the Citizens United ruling — and journalism, a core check and balance on the government, declines, American citizens are in danger of becoming less informed and more open to manipulation. With groundbreaking behind-the-scenes reporting and staggering new research on the money power,” Dollarocracy shows that this new power does not just endanger electoral politics; it is a challenge to the DNA of American democracy itself.
About the Author
John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written The Nations Online Beat since 1999 is their Washington DC correspondent contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times, he is also the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers and he is a frequent guest on radio and television programs as a commentator on politics and media issues. Nichols lives in Madison, WI and Washington DC.
Robert W. McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the author or editor of sixteen books. He is the President and co-founder of Free Press, a national media reform organization. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and Champaign, Illinois.
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