Most modern democracies embrace some form of socialism. Not so in the USA, where capitalism has become tantamount to religion and the capitalists have a stranglehold on the political process. Ironically, the U.S. Congress’ single democratic socialist and foremost champion of progressive causes may wind up being silenced and marginalized by the same forces he has stood against for four decades.

Yet today’s candidates of all stripes have little choice but to go to those forces for the massive amounts of money required to mount a campaign anymore. Never one to compromise his ideals, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont  continues to bite the hands that now, thanks to Citizens United, feed the entire political process. According to his campaign adviser, Tad Devine, this will likely hamstring any attempt Sanders makes to win the Democratic nomination for 2016.

At the same time, front-runners Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush plan on raising in excess of $1 billion for their respective campaigns – even as self-styled kings Charles and David Koch have vowed to drop at least that much of their own vast fortune in order to buy the election.

There is another troubling aspect to this, making it into a problem that literally feeds on itself. It’s about “name recognition.” As we have seen in pop culture, quality has little to do with what succeeds and what fails. As professional promoters often point out, it’s about “branding” and people’s perceptions. If the media gods have judged that someone – such as Dennis Kucinich or Bernie Sanders – is not a “serious” candidate, it really doesn’t matter what the message is or what the real issues are about.

Both Kucinich and Sanders understand the real problems facing this country – but because they are not considered “serious” candidates by the media Powers That Be (not to mention their outspoken stance against the same power elite that control the money), it is difficult for them to raise campaign funds. In turn, their voices are drowned out by the large, expensive bullhorns to which the corporate and financial elite can easily buy limitless access.

Combine this with the “dumbing down” of entire generation who lives on the 21st Century version of “bread and circuses,” the future of American democracy looks grim.