Why is anyone surprised? We don't actually have a political system indistinguishable from patronage and never have had.

The US has its pork-barrel politics with 'defence industry' dollars being directed at places where the governor, senator and state caucus needs to be bought off for the next election.

The amount of money spent on political bribery and graft disguised as altruism in one way or another is quite likely in the end to be the death of any thin remnant of democracy.