Do party donations undermine representative democracy?
Yes, I think "party donations undermine representative democracy". It would be incredibly naive to think otherwise. Those who engineered the rise of party politics in America's early days had the wit to maintain the forms of democracy while making sure the result was a pseudo-democracy rather than a real one. They publicized, indeed ballyhooed, the people's right to vote, but made sure they could only vote on choices made by the parties. The people were given no voice in the selection of their representatives or in the operation of their government. Having ceded to party politicians the right to select the candidates for public office and the ability to enact the laws that gave them control of the state and national governments, the people were helpless. That, of course, is the whole point of party politics.
At first, party operations were conducted and underwritten by the party leaders and their friends, but those reservoirs soon proved inadequate. As the parties engaged in sweeping campaigns to extend their reach, they incurred significant costs that resulted in substantial debt. They attracted the resources they needed by selling their stock in trade - the ability to write our laws - and used fundraisers to arrange the details. The group the fundraisers targeted for funds were not altruists. They demanded - and received - favorable treatment in the nation's state and national legislatures in return for providing the resources the parties needed.
We need look no further than our recent history: Our elected representatives allow - indeed encourage - the uninhibited growth of huge corporations that achieve such monstrous size they are called 'too big to fail', they gutted and repealed The Glass-Steagall Act, they've enacted an outrageous expansion of 'intellectual property rights' to allow corporations (which have no intellect) to levy a perpetual tax on the people, and so on, and so on, ad nauseum.
More than 100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt warned the American people about the 'unholy alliance' between corrupt business and corrupt politics. He described the invisible government behind the ostensible government, "owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people". The party system prevents us from stopping this unwarranted influence. The parties continue to function as conduits for the corruption that burdens our people. So, yes, I think "party donations undermine representative democracy".