Follow the Author
Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America Hardcover – June 11, 2013
Explore your book, then jump right back to where you left off with Page Flip.
View high quality images that let you zoom in to take a closer look.
Enjoy features only possible in digital – start reading right away, carry your library with you, adjust the font, create shareable notes and highlights, and more.
Discover additional details about the events, people, and places in your book, with Wikipedia integration.
Enhance your purchase
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 biggerespecially after the Citizens United rulingand 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.
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
United States Senator Bernie Sanders
"Incisive.... [A] fervent call to all citizens."
"An alarming, not-incorrect diagnosis."
"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."
U.S. representative democracy is built on four pillars: independent journalists, informed and engaged citizens, fair and free elections, and responsive and responsible government. These pillars have been eroded by what Nichols and McChesney label the money-and-media election complex,' an incestuous and self-interested marriage of big media and big money. The result is a dollarocracy' resting on four new pillars: media corporations, disenchanted and manipulated citizens, elections that go to the highest bidder, and government that is only responsive to and responsible for the needs of the privileged class. Read this book, then go to your window and shout I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!'”
Michael X. Delli Carpini
Dean, Annenberg School for Communication
University of Pennsylvania
"Dollarocracy tackles the most important problem in American public life today in a highly readable and truly insightful fashion. Americans know generally that they live in a money-driven political system, but the book is still likely to shock and dismay them. It's particularly good on how the press plays into money politics, making the whole far worse than the sum of the parts."
Thomas Ferguson, Professor of Political Science at University of Massachusetts, Boston
Senior Fellow, Roosevelt Institute
Votes should matter more than dollars. Unfortunately, too many politicians and pundits forget this basic American value. John Nichols and Bob McChesney provide a vivid reminder of why we cannot allow our country to become a Dollarocracy. And they inspire us to make the reforms that are needed to realize the full promise of democracy.”
Congressman Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin
Sponsor, Right to Vote Amendment”
"The billionaires are buying our media and our elections. They're spinning our democracy into a dollarocracy. John Nichols and Bob McChesney expose the culprits who steered America into the quagmire of big money and provide us with the tools to free ourselves and our republic from the corporate kleptocrats."
Executive Director, Center for Media and Democracy
"If we want America to be a democracy and we do we must guarantee the right of all Americans to vote. John Nichols and Bob McChesney recognize this and their groundbreaking book makes a compelling for placing the right to vote at the center of our urgent struggle to protect and extend democracy."
Executive Director, FairVote: The Center for Voting and Democracy
"Dollarocracy is the most important political book of the year, maybe of our times. Nichols and McChesney provide an original and painstakingly researched account of how corporations and billionaires have come to dominate the political process, as well as the contours of what they term the 'money-and-media election complex.' Although I study politics for a living, I learned more about how political advertising works, the crucial role of media corporations and dreadful election journalism than I would have ever imagined possible. In the smartest treatment I have seen, Dollarocracy also details how the Internet is being incorporated into the system; its fantastic potential to empower citizens to battle big money has been effectively neutered. Most important, Nichols and McChesney provide a roadmap to a better and more just election system, built on the foundation of establishing the right to vote. It is an optimistic response to a disturbing analysis. This is exactly the book every concerned American needs to read, because the process of understanding what exactly is going on and taking America back from the corporations starts here."
"I hope Dollarocracy reaches a large audience, not just among journalists but among the citizens who will produce the next journalism, so we can all move toward a more open, competent and trustworthy press."
Bill Kovach, former Washington Bureau Chief of the New York Times, and former editor of the Atlanta Journal Constitution
"As Nichols and McChesney's new book shows, the robber barons of the late 19th century were pikers compared with today's moneyed interests. They have hijacked our elections at all levels, and nothing short of the sweeping reforms called for in Dollarocracy can fix the problem. The book is a must read for anyone who cares about the integrity of our democratic system."
Thomas E. Patterson
Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, Harvard University
"This is the black book of politics-as-industry, an encyclopedic account of money's crimes against democracy. The billionaires have hijacked our government, and anyone feeling complacent after the 2012 election should take sober note of Nichols' and McChesney's astonishing finding: It's only going to get worse. Dollarocracy is an impressive achievement."
"Dollarocracy gets at what's ailing America better than any other diagnosis I've encountered. Plus it prescribes a cure. What else could a reader--or a citizen--ask? To me, it's the book of the year."
Michael J. Copps
FCC Commisioner, 2001-2011
"Those of us who have been fighting at the grassroots against the corporate influence on both major parties have for years been waiting for an uncompromising, unrelenting expose of how big money shouts down the voices of citizens. This is it! Nichols and McChesney reveal how billionaires and corporations are buying our media, buying our elections. But Nichols and McChesney don't stop there. They outline an agenda that is bold enough to make this country a real democracy. If you want to build a movement that gives power to the people, you must read this book."
Executive Director, Progressive Democrats of America
"John Nichols and Bob McChesney reveal that the 2012 election cycle had a price tag of 10 billion. They show us who the money came from and how it was spent. But, most important, they explain why this cannot go on if we are to have fair elections and honest government. With its breakthrough reporting and incisive analysis, Dollarocracy give us the foundation we need to make the case for fundamental change like a constitutional amendment to overturn our system of unlimited campaign spending and restore democracy to the people."
Co-Founder and Executive Director, Free Speech For People
Founder, National Voting Rights Institute
About the Author
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.
- Publisher : Nation Books; 1st edition (June 11, 2013)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1568587074
- ISBN-13 : 978-1568587073
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Grade level : 11 and up
- Item Weight : 1.3 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.63 x 9.63 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,980,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
They also provide solutions. And very good ones at that, not easy, but simple.
Everyone knows the Citizens United ruling and that's only the most well known example of corporation friendly, judicial legislating. That goes back to the days of corporate activist/Supreme Court Judge Lewis Powell quite a few decades prior.
Another aspect that the authors nailed is the media issues. Lack of verifying claims made in campaign ads and televised media are only a part of the problem. They are connected to money in politics. Election coverage is sensationalized and the point that the media chooses the candidates is obvious. Another example of too much money in politics....if you don't have the money you won't get the coverage. All of the advertising money on tv goes to the same wealthy individuals that own the media corporations.
For me, the most revelatory subject was data-mining and microtargeting. That's not a partisan issue as both parties do it. But it is disturbing!
If you want to understand how money has corrupted American politics read this book.
This reviewer, perhaps like many will, began the book at its concluding chapter 9 THE RIGHT TO VOTE in which Nichols and McChesney summarize the problem simply stated where dollars over rule votes, or if you like, rule over votes. The preceding 8 chapters build the case, again simply stated, that The People have been dumbed down by what ought to be their defender, The Media, regarding The Controllers, those who weald power over government and the media.
They correctly assess that America from its beginning was not designed as a populist state where each citizen stood equal but they pay tribute to the reformers who, at moments when it was possible, expanded The People's role through the election process so that there was a relationship between votes cast and government actions. And that those actions were reviewed and assessed by a Critical Media.
One of the strongest sections of their work is the careful appraisal of what has happened and why to our journalist purveyors of truth or at least attempts at it.
They cover the history of the press and its tumble through history from many sources to few media giants' domination and then, under populist pressure, the rise of professional news rooms.
In recent times, as they argus, these have been purchased and suppressed and replaced by their obverse - profit seeking conglomerates that thrive on the explosive expenditures of politics today and do the bidding of the Wealthy with an ever declining level of content and coverage.
They summarize their proposed reforms centering on a simple but perhaps unobtainable process: the creation of an extensive informed electorate.
It is here that the stretch between what they so effectively have discovered and detailed in their work and their hopes for reform shows the greatest.
Quoting: "To establish an affirmative right to vote, we can imagine an even simpler amendment than has been proposed; one that reads: "Every American citizen 18 years of age or older has a right to vote, to the information necessary to cast an informed vote, and to the assurance that their vote will count equally with others toward the formation of local, state, and national governments." From such an assurance could extend protections necessary to establish real democracy and a more perfect union: not just equal access to the polls but equal access to news and opinions about the candidates and parties and issues; not just the assurance of the fair counting of votes for which there is currently no guarantee but also to voting systems and electoral districts that give those votes meaning. The possibilities are, as the poet Langston Hughes might suggest, "explosive.""
Looking at the existing electoral process they quote President Carter, the planet's most famous election observer, describing the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United v. FEC as "a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans." Carter declared that "we have one of the worst election processes in the world right in the United States of America, and it's almost entirely because of the excessive influx of money."
Nichols and McChesney's suggested reforms confront this reality and their warning is that:
"(I)f we are not entering into a new age of reform characterized by progress and the consolidation of gains, then we are accepting the certainty of an ever-deepening degeneration toward points unknown and unwanted."
The argument they have built to describe where we are now may seem stronger than their reoccurring faith in the reoccurrence of progressive movements; they do to this reviewer.
But they do trust the American people to rise to the challenge.
They cite international examples of other nations working toward truly Democratic Institutions and hope we can look outward as needed.
What is the cliché `Time will tell?'