There are several different forms of government in the present world. One such form is Democracy. Democracy is supposed to be a form of government voted into power by the people to serve the best interests of the people. Translating this lofty ideal into reality, however, is both complicated and problematic. Yes, it is said that the voter is king in a democracy. But this assertion is more of a slogan than reality. What is left unsaid is that no country can have every voting citizen as king: only one king per country. Besides, in a true democracy, a king is only a symbolic figure, with no significant executive or legislative powers.
The actual king in democracy is not the voter, but the forces or powers that steer him in his voting. The voter needs to know who he should vote for and what is in it for him. At one extreme could be a true idealist who simply votes to enlist his personal power for the good of the common weal, as he values it and sees it. An equally true idealist may do the same and vote for the good of the common weal. Except that this latter person’s values and the common weal can be diametrically opposed to that of the first person. Potentially, there can be as many differences of vote exercises as there are voters: a recipe for chaos.
Partly to avoid chaos and partly to enhance the likelihood of attaining their objectives, like-minded people coalesce by forming interest groups such as labor unions and political parties.
Once this grouping happens, conflict is only one step behind. Different parties compete for their own interests with little regard or care for other groups. It is at this point that funds begin to greatly influence outcomes.
The Golden Rule means he who has the gold makes the rule, it is said cynically, yet there is a large dose of truth in it. In reality, democracies are plutocracies — the rule of money.
Tricky Representation: It is practically impossible for any community of any size to constitute itself in such a way that every member directly participates in every decision and action of the community. It is this impracticality, a lesson learned from the early New England settlers Town Hall meetings that necessitated electing individuals with the task of representing those people. It is at this juncture that money enters the fray with even greater impact.
An aspirant of any elective office needs funds, in proportion to the importance of the office he is seeking. A person running for a seat in a council of a small town, for instance, may require modest funds for handbills, possible newspaper ads, and so forth.
In contrast, an aspirant for the office of a country’s presidency would need a war chest of hundreds of millions of dollars. And there are all kinds of elected officials staffing the government, from the bottom to the top. And every one of these people is dependent on funds to promote themselves and their platforms.
Often, the candidate with a bigger war chest wins the prize — and gets elected. A troubling question is where the person secured the funds, and what kinds of IOUs he had to issue.
Another troubling question is what the person’s true aim is in running for the office. There must be something in it for him — whatever that something may be. We would like to think that he is an altruistic person who is really devoted to the service of his constituents. But, who are his real constituents?
Often, it is a sad fact that many elected or appointed politicians are driven by ambitions other than serving the people. Volumes can be produced of such cases in democracies. The attainment of office may be merely a means to an end and the supreme end is self-serving monetarily or otherwise.
It is a sad fact that money drives politicians to power and keeps them there. Without money, they never make it to first base. Without more money, they may just languish at first base. To advance further to real power, politicians need large sums of money. And people who have money, as a rule, do not give politicians money without extracting payback. The higher the politician moves, the greater is his IOU to the people and the organizations that own him.
Like every transaction in life, dealing with moneyed people is a bartering system. The politician becomes an employee of the funder (s). The contract, as it is generally the case, favors the employer — the money. The employee, the politicians, often, finds himself in a trap. He is, in effect, a purchased agent with little or no leeway. If he deviates in the least from his commitment, he may find himself out of work and more.
Moneyed Muslims and Muslim organizations with vast interest in promoting Islam are thoroughly familiar with the power of money to recruit people to do their bidding. That’s why many non-Muslims work at all levels of government and the society at large to further Islam. In short: they are paid to do a job.
And it is the case that powerful institutions and organizations have the means and personnel to accomplish their objectives — whatever they may be.
We are individuals, and more often than not, we are outmanned and outgunned by these group forces. Lone rangers win only in make-believe movies. In real life, governments, institutions and organizations are the ones who prevail. They have the funds to buy the services of the media; employ lawyers, politicians, and mercenaries of all stripes.
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