Authoritarian henchmen, shut up
On the contrast between campaign contributors and secret police
Certain leaps of logic are so facile they scarcely seem worth the effort to bat them down. But when those absurdities are dressed up as anti-American propaganda by one of the premier state-run media outlets in China, perhaps it requires at least a brief dismissal.
■ Xinhua has taken a swipe at what it labels "Problem 1 of [the] US Democratic System -- Money-dominated politics: money decides everything." The claim isn't just poorly-written, it is threadbare -- particularly coming from a single-party state.
■ Lots of money flows into American politics, of course, but far less than people perceive. Advertising Age reported on $8.5 billion in advertising spending in the 2020 election cycle. A lot of money? Sure. But that's really only about $25 per person in the entire country, and it counts all of the ads for offices up and down the ballot.
■ But far more important than having perspective on the amount of money actually spent is a far more fundamental question: Would you rather live under a system influenced by money or by secret police?
■ A person speaking up against those with political power in an authoritarian state could find themselves suddenly erased from public view: See the case of Peng Shuai Going abroad doesn't protect dissidents, either: Consider the long reach of the repressive regime as it intimidates students and academics who live overseas. And the harassment reaches even those who choose to speak out only online and behind pseudonyms.
■ Such is the mechanism of an authoritarian state. It acts not on persuasion or argument, but on fear and intimidation. There is no marketplace of ideas for people to conduct their disagreements out in the open -- only a state monopoly on force, protecting a monopoly on power. What can be more corrosive to human welfare than that?
■ Surely any amount spent on political advertising in a country where voters are entirely free to choose elsewise is preferable to the unchecked authority of an uncompetitive political regime.