I didn't know the billionaire Harmon of Harmon-Kardon Audio fame had bought Newsweek Magazine until I wondered at an essay I read in the latest issue. It was the first time I'd had the pleasure of seeing a large circulation magazine admit that business had bought both of the main political parties. I checked who owned Newsweek, and found that The Washington Post company had just sold it last month to Harmon for a dollar and his taking over about seventy million dollars in debt.
I was waiting for this change, when business feeling itself invulnerable would open up and become talkative, I was waiting for the new era to arrive in which Americans would be saying to each other openly that their democracy is at an end, and saying openly as well what was the cause. I'm sure that in the coming issues Newsweek will be telling us about Thomas Jefferson, and quoting his warning words that democracy cannot last unless the people remain good, that nothing else will keep the nation from falling victim to factions, coalitions of the powerful.
For the past 50 years we have been part of an economic experiment testing the theory that free trade and withdrawal of regulation will be good for all. We have learned that it is good only for the rich. In the same way, self interest in politics, when it is universal, also benefits only the rich. That is what we are learning in the present ongoing political experiment, America's whole-hearted adoption of greed as an ideal. Universal self interest in politics has got us where we are now, with political parties bought by the same businesses, politicians whose campaigns are funded by the same businesses, politicians half of whom when out of office work as lobbyists for the same businesses. And let us not forget that this year the U.S Supreme court went on record with its ruling that those same businesses, which by law must act selfishly in the interests of profiting their shareholders, are no different from individuals in having a right to make political donations.
As I said, it's all out in the open now. But according to the theory of Jefferson and other founders of our nation, being out in the open won't make any difference, not unless the people stop being bad.
The people who aren't rich aren't going to like the end of democracy, and aren't going to like reading about it, won't like complaining about it to each other. They won't like either the gloating frankness of the publishing business. But what can they do about it? Democracy has been bought and sold. Bring it back? They are not the kind of Americans who founded the country.