In understanding how to secure a real democracy which isn't actually biased in favor of a wealthy minority, we need to appreciate what underlies politics. The most decisive factor in any society is its economy. Why? Because the economy is the sum total of how various people get the necessities of life and, if possible, the comforts of life. When people make choices about their own lives and the society around them, their basic needs must play a major role. Consciously or unconsciously, economic considerations will influence most people even beyond basic needs. And there is a minority of people who are driven to have vast wealth or to acquire power through wealth.
Money is influence. Those who have lots of money and want lots of influence use that money to influence those in the government. Even if most people in the government were immune to the influence of money, big money influence-peddlers would find those few who can be bought or manipulated. Some people go into politics in search of the influence money. Some people who go into politics lack the strength to avoid being manipulated by the highly skillful lobbyists big money can buy. And even if big money lobbyists only get their way with a few legislators, that makes them win more often than they would without big money. Some who go into politics are big money themselves and are acting on their own behalf. Some politicians just can't see beyond today's status quo.
Money can be influence in other ways. When companies don't get their way with politicians and legislation, they threaten to move to another place where the government will grovel at their feet. Even when citizens' labor and government money has helped a company become a major business, it has no loyalty and will move away - harming the local economy. After that, the local people may be afraid not to submit to whatever demands other companies make.
To one degree or another, the influence of money can be limited by restricting political spending or even having all campaigning paid by a government fund. But as long as deeply selfish people and companies have big money and are willing to undermine true democracy, there will be ways around that. The big media, which is owned by big money, can still use it's editorials to favor candidates, or even put a slant on the news coverage of a campaign. Companies might find students willing to act as volunteers for company-favored candidates - with the students hoping that will increase their chances of getting good jobs after graduation. Corporate executives may use their ability to get media attention to support a candidate if they think that will get them bigger bonuses from stockholders. And so on.
Big money will continue to have a bigger say in government until they don't have enough money to do it. It's up to the majority to decide which legislation they demand to defend democracy from big money - how far they want to go in that direction. Not just to "protect" democracy, since money is already diminishing our democracy - but to bring real democracy into being. The sad fact is, the less we do today to stop the influence of money, the more time big money has to erode democracy. Big money will not only be strengthening their hold on government officials, but getting those officials to limit voting and the influence of voters. The more time we give them, the harder it is for the majority to implement their wishes.
Today, the wealthy are using various means to increase control over the government. Citizens United and further pending court cases. Voter suppression / intimidation. Long waiting lines to vote. Gerrymandering. And the process will only continue to shrink the real say the majority have. A serious movement to push back the influence of money and the restriction of our voting power must start soon. We can't afford to wait for politicians - who are already indebted to big money - to make us promises or act. Big money is already tightening its control over politicians. The time must be now.
* * * * * *
Here is a list of legal changes that could help protect and strengthen the will of the majority:
* A constitutional amendment to limit money used to support candidates, parties and organizations which try to influence voters. Limits on money for lobbying.
* Allow citizen-initiated referendum for federal legislation.
* Election of the President by popular vote, not the Electoral College.
* A constitutional amendment to outlaw poll taxes and any other legal action found to be used to reduce the number of otherwise-eligible voters. (Poll taxes are forbidden by federal law of the Civil Rights era, but not the Constitution. The Supreme Court is beginning to consider challenges to Civil Rights era legislation and the prohibition on poll taxes may be lost.)
* If long voter waiting lines prevent voting within a designated time frame, alternatives must be provided to ensure casting of ballots. Penalties for states / cities found to be selectively providing too few resources to certain voting locations.
* Former prisoners should have full voting rights.
* Legal penalties for politicians who break campaign promises. Elections can't represent the majority will if the majority is being deceived by candidates.
* Legal standards for the drawing of districts, so as to prevent gerrymandering, and standards for reviewing whether districts result in misrepresentation of state-wide voter preferences.
* Legal standards that forbid selective purging of voter rolls, except based on specific evidence as to individuals. Legal penalties for officials when voter purges are found to contain too many eligible voters.
* A candidates debate in which the candidate with more money got to talk more wouldn't be fair. We may want restrictions on how many more ads a candidate can have simply because he [or organizations advocating for him] is backed by big money.
* Forbid Senate filibusters from preventing majority action.
* Have the number of Senate seats based on a state's population to ensure proportional representation.
* Implement new ballot methods intended to increase determination of voter preferences. (For instance, it's been suggested that a clearer expression of voter wishes could be achieved by allowing voters to indicate which candidate they like best, but also be able to indicate a second preference in case their first preference doesn't get enough votes. Then, there are scientific ways to find which candidate best approximates what the people want.)
* * * * *
Other Reasons to Keep Corporate Money Out of Politics:
* It is consistent with democratic ideals to prevent an elite from having disproportionate influence because of greater financial assets
* Corporations get their money from consumers, the efforts of employees and from shareholders. Consumers and most of the employees have no say in the political use of that money. Shareholders often aren't given a chance to vote on political uses of their money either.
* The shareholders of corporations are legally protected from full liability for the corporation's actions and debts. Rights and responsibilities should be linked. Shareholders don't accept full responsibility, there's no reason their corporation should have full rights.
* The fact shareholders don't have full financial liability for their corporation means that when corporations have to be bailed out or otherwise dump their debts on the government, the government must pay more than if the shareholders took full responsibility. Therefore, they should be limited in their influence on government policies, which include bail-outs.
* Corporations are inherently undemocratic. Shareholders make decisions on a "one dollar, one vote" basis - not "one person, one vote". This is not a desirable source of influence on a democracy.
* Even a company incorporated in the US may be motivated to act in the interests of other countries. A controlling interest of its stock may be held by non-Americans. Most of its materials, production or sales may be in other countries, making it more concerned with making choices beneficial to those other countries. American politics should be decided by Americans.
* If corporations were people they would qualify as sociopaths. They only care about themselves. They only care about money. The consequences for others don't concern them. They have no emotional need for companionship, so they don't care if their selfishness leaving them friendless.
* Corporations have no loyalty. Corporations often are legally based in states or countries other than where they actually carry out business. In that way, they circumvent laws of the states and countries where they are really based.
* Corporate political spending is a way in which the rich avoid taking the entire expense out of their own pockets. Corporate spending comes out of both big and small stockholders. The big stockholders (rich) make the small stockholders (not rich) subsidize the political choices of the rich, rather than the rich paying it all in personal political spending.