Lost in the exaggerated numbers of primary election vote totals is the very frightening reality that less than 8% of the electorate is all it takes to amass political power in our county.
The population of Santa Clara County is 1,787, 694 people according to the 2010 census. Total voter registration is 755,117 or 42.2% of the population. While there are many in the total that are ineligible to vote, ie. (children, non-citizens and felons), the voter registration figures still amount to around 50% of all those who are eligible to vote.
Noting the turnout for Tuesday’s election in our county will be around 37% of the registered voters and it takes 50% plus 1 vote to win an election, that means less than 8% of the entire population is all that is needed to determine the outcome for the rest of us. Statewide the percentage was even less as turnout was slightly worse than our county. This is our alleged democracy in reality.
As for those who participate financially in political campaigns the number is much smaller. This financial participation gives this smaller, elite minority even more political power. They are the political power that far exceeds an average voter.
The major players in this group are mostly in the top 1% of the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans or they are multinational corporations with a major interest in the government policies that result from elections. The tobacco companies spent over $50 million–and around 8% of the electorate statewide bought their message.
Here are some other disturbing statistics involving reality and perceptions. Fully 50% of all American are poor or low income, Republicans like to point out how unfair it is that these people don’t pay taxes. Conversely, 70% of Americans believe they will be in the top 10% of wealth in the U.S. Collectively that shows that Americans are unbelievably optimistic, are not very good at math or have been influenced by the false narrative of FOX News and the republican right. It could be a combination of all three.
Another myth: Working hard is all it takes to make it in America. The majority of the wealthy do not make their money from labor, they make it from capital ie. money. That is the definition of capitalism, money makes more money.
Because the top 1% participates in the financing of elections and it takes less than 6% of the population to gain political power, it doesn’t take a genius to understand why public policy in this nation favors the top 10% generally and the top 2% specifically.
It is the reason we have a wealth gap and why Mitt Romney is even with President Obama in the polls. It is why Republicans do not pay a political price for their support of the top 2% in wealth, why tobacco companies continue to spread their poison, why GE pays no income tax, why Donald Trump can declare bankruptcy and keep his fortune, why banks are bailed out yet homeowners are foreclosed upon, why Halliburton can commit fraud and not have to pay their fines, why the Obama Healthcare plan is a boon to private insurance companies, why Warren Buffett’s secretary pays a higher tax rate than her boss and why, regardless of party, the poor and the dispossessed in this country are scapegoated for our major problems, while the power elite is revered as our country’s saviors and our nations “job creators”, despite all evidence to the contrary.
A revolution in this country is badly needed. It need not be violent, though the conditions are becoming such that the wealthy might start worrying more about losing their heads than fretting about their inconsequential tax rate. But the means of a nonviolent revolution are available, but the dispossessed need to educate themselves and participate in their own democracy.
Failing that revolution, the wealth gap will only get larger. The power elite spent $60 million in support of Governor Scott Walker who has waged war on the minimal protections that currently exists for lower income people. Once labor’s ability to provide political information, a voice and power to the electorate is completely silenced, the power elite will be the only source of political information. This is the ultimate goal of the war on labor and the Walker agenda.
Finally, I’d like to congratulate the winners in Tuesday’s election. Mayor Chuck Reed, Rose Herrera, Peirluigi Oliverio, Kansen Chu, Ash Kalra and Jimmy Nguyen. Civility has become a lost art in our politics. We can fight during an election and respect each other and the results after the election, even if our democracy is flawed.
However, there is an exception to that rule; I will not congratulate the tobacco industry—one need not be civil to the mass murderers, purveyors of poison, and dishonest campaign messaging– even if they win.