An interesting question, posed by P.M. Carpenter. The answer is of course “both”, but the real question is whether either side is more to blame. I assign significantly more blame to the voters, but I get the impression that most people here, as elsewhere, lay most of it at the feet of the demagogue or “Pied Piper” (just as they blame Democrats for not inspiring their base enough to get them to come out and midterms).
This is related to why I can’t get too bothered by the notion of rich people “buying elections” as long as people have the free choice to vote for whomever they like. I believe, regardless of advertising or any of that, that people should research on their own and figure out whether they should actually vote for the candidates who are throwing billions of dollars into marketing their brands.
One problem is that “research[ing] on their own” includes paying attention to commercials paid for by the rich. Most people don’t have the inclination or resources for in-depth independent research. And in some circles, “fact-checking” is frowned upon.
Voters reaching a result one doesn’t like doesn’t strike me as a danger to democracy. Few people raised this sort of existential concern about the Scottish referendum, after all.
The fact that the views of 52% of the electorate on an issue of the greatest importance were wholly unrepresented in the legislature – that seems like a significant systemic problem, and the parties ought to be seriously exploring how they drifted so far from the public at large.
The problem with blming the voters is that you can’t do anything to solve that problem (other than get your own Peid Piper), while you can possibly do something about and individual Peid Piper. Its like asking whose to blame for what happened in New Orleans, The Bush administration or the hurricane. The hurricane obviously caused more damage but you can’t exactly hold it accountable.
I am less concerned with rich people buying elections than I am with rich people buying politicians by paying for their elections.