II. Money Politics Prevail in the United States
The U.S. 2018 midterm elections cost a huge quantity of money. Elections became the games of money, with much involvement of "dark money" and corruption. Cases of politicians involved in corruption were not rare and the government served as the spokesperson of the rich.
The "most expensive" midterm elections in history. The 2018 midterm elections were proved to be by far the most expensive ones on record. The final cost of 2018 midterm elections stood at 5.2 billion U.S. dollars, a 35 percent increase over 2014 in nominal dollars, the Center for Responsive Politics said on November 8, 2018 (www.opensecrets.org, November 8, 2018). The Texas Senate race was the most expensive House or Senate race in U.S. history, with Democrat candidate Beto O'Rourke alone setting a record by raising 69.1 million U.S. dollars (www.usatoday.com, November 16, 2018).
Secret money donations and "dark money" swept over the elections. According to an NBC report on July 21, 2018, U.S. Treasury Department announced that it would no longer require most non-profit organizations to report their donors, making elections much less transparent. During the 2018 midterms, a record high of 98 million U.S. dollars in dark money were spent by outside groups other than the candidates' campaign committees. More than 40 percent of television advertisements broadcast by outside groups to influence congressional elections were financed by secret donors and over one-fourth of the advertising funds for House and Senate elections came from groups that did not disclose their donors. Airings by "dark money" groups in federal races since the 2014 midterms jumped by 26 percent (www.usatoday.com, July 12 and November 16, 2018).
Electoral corruption became severer. The Guardian reported on August 7, 2018, that U.S. elections were widely seen to be corrupt by the public. Members of Congress were viewed to be captured by corporations, wealthy donors and special interests groups. The average cost of winning a Senate seat was 19.4 million U.S. dollars while winning a House of Representatives seat would cost at least 1.5 million U.S. dollars on average. Election fraud such as using money in exchange for votes was common. According to a report of The New York Times on its website on November 20, 2018, the Los Angeles district attorney announced that nine people had been charged with paying homeless people with one-dollar bills and some cigarettes in exchange for signing names on voter registration forms.
U.S. Government served as the spokesperson of the rich. According to a report released by Philip G. Alston, special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights for the UN, the combined wealth of the United States cabinet reached about 4.3 billion U.S. dollars, turning the U.S. government into the spokesperson of the rich people. Former Arkansas State Senator and State Representative Henry Wilkins accepted bribes in exchange for voting in favor of the intentions of lobbyists, according to a statement on the website of U.S. Justice Department on April 30, 2018. Influenced by lobbyists, Florida governor Rick Scott cut 700 million U.S. dollars in funding for water management, Miami Herald reported on August 2, 2018. The reduction led to a severe red tide crisis, causing the death of marine life and endangering the health of coastal residents.
Politicians' corruption scandals were seen constantly. Former Tallahassee mayor Scott Maddox faced a 44-count indictment including bribery, extortion and fraud, Miami Herald reported on December 8, 2018. A prominent Texas senator was accused of using her influence to try to end an investigation into a bar she and her husband owned, according to the website of the Houston Chronicle on June 8, 2018. The Week published an article titled "Corruption is eroding American democracy" on its website on December 14, 2018, saying corporations captured U.S. politicians with campaign donations and promises of future bribes so that politicians would make legislations on behalf of their businesses.
The public had pessimistic attitudes towards U.S. politics. A Pew Research Center survey on American democracy and the political system released on April 26, 2018, showed 53 percent of the surveyed said the United States did not respect "the rights and freedoms of all people." The Newsweek reported on June 26, 2018 that a poll showed 55 percent of Americans said democracy in the United States was "weak" currently, and 68 percent said they believed democracy in the United States was "getting weaker."