The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

A choice of poisons is no choice at all

Feb 2, 2004

If you thought telephone mass marketers were bad, there's worse: presidential candidates and primary elections!

Millions upon millions of dollars are raised and spent by a few candidates – putting forth even fewer ideas.

This onslaught is justified in the name of democracy. Supposedly, the population of the U.S. is being given this opportunity to choose – but who is choosing the candidates?

Who is providing the many millions of dollars that it takes to pay staff, buy commercials and air time, pay public relations and advertising firms, buy and mail billions of pieces of literature? The so-called "choices" that are offered to voters are only those "choices" that first attract millions of dollars before reaching the voters.

All major candidates bury the question of who's paying their bills. Candidates imply that campaign finance restrictions limit everyone to a donation of $2000, so that the wealthy don't have overwhelming influence.

In reality, the wealthy have all the means they need to get around the law. They can use corporations, banks, financial firms, and law firms they control, through which they can gather the thousands of $2000 "contributions" necessary to buy candidates. According to candidates' financial filings collected by, the big investment firm of Goldman Sachs organized enough "individual" contributions so that it is among the top 10 institutional investors in the campaigns of not only George W. Bush but also of Howard Dean, John Kerry and John Edwards!

The candidates also rely on their ties to the large news and advertising media. Those candidates or those ideas which don't appeal to the media owners don't get air time or press coverage, as recently shown when tried to buy a 30-second Super Bowl commercial criticizing Bush. CBS refused to run the commercial, even though air time was available, and a pro-Bush commerical will be shown.

No, voters in this country do not have real choices. Today, without a party representing workers' interests, we are limited to choosing among the various personalities pre-selected for their compatibility with business interests – and sent to us pre-paid.