Money and politics seem to be unavoidable bedfellows in the modern age. Sadly, the obscene sums spent by political campaigns every election cycle do little to directly benefit the American public. The wealth divide in the country has only widened, and those with limited means are left with an even more limited voice. This stark reality is apparent in the millionaires who overwhelmingly occupy seats in the Congress and the House of Representatives. Who do they ultimately work for in the end? The penetrating new documentary My Ballot scrutinizes the American political system and those who profit most from it.
The film is a protest against those politicians who spend and earn absurd amounts of money while the poor and middle class citizens they were elected to represent suffer through abject living conditions, pay cuts, shuttered schools, limited access to healthcare, slashed social security benefits, and unaffordable housing costs. Wouldn't the money spent on election campaigns be better placed in funding a cure for these societal ills?
To be fair, the film makes it clear that the issue runs deeper than any one individual. Many industries enjoy a financial windfall come election season. Political and media insiders break down the numbers. Television advertising accounts for the majority of dollars spent, and its effectiveness is ultimately questionable at best. The system itself is broken, and stacked against the possibility of real change. If someone sets out to run for political office, they must be independently wealthy, or have unfettered access to others who are. Potential change makers who are true advocates for the other 99% simply cannot afford to provide these everyday citizens with a voice in today's political arena.
Is there a better way? Campaign finance reform has been on the table for many years, yet little has been done to act on it. As long as the dollars keep coming in, and the rich continue to get richer, there's little incentive to do so.
Admirably, My Ballot does not approach its subject from a stance of hysteria and outrage; its approach is more measured and precise. It delivers a clear message that should not be ignored.
Directed by: Mohammad Tayyeb