The Implications Of Money In Politics


by SavvyRoo on Jan 12, 2016 | Views: 266 | Score: 4

Undoubtedly, money plays an essential role in American politics. Politicians need money to fund legislation, pay interest on debt, and finance campaigns. A result of the Citizen's United Supreme Court ruling, however, many people are claiming that money has become too influential in the realm of politics. Is the use of greenbacks an expression of free speech, or is it eroding our very foundation of democracy?

Follow The Money To The Source

Cash on HandPACsIndividual Donors
Money raised for all House candidates from 2013-2014229533892353301223567592516
Source of Money
$
Sources: opensecrets.org

In the 2013-2014 election cycle alone, House candidates raised well over a billion dollars total. While the majority of the money came from individual donors, approximately a third of the funding originated from Political Action Committees. These private special interest groups, commonly referred to as PACs, funnel money into elections with the purpose of electing or defeating certain candidates.

The Explosion Of Outside Spending

Total outside spending on elections (in USD)
19907213219
199219635123
19949538844
199617884043
199815191107
200051638411
200227686417
2004193129472
200669534653
2008338399923
2010309834180
20121038736997
2014561179719
$
Sources: opensecrets.org

While outside spending had been somewhat subdued leading up to the 21st century, things have changed very rapidly in the last decade. Super-PACs, organizations that cannot fund candidates directly but can spend unlimited sums of money for advocation purposes, have radically transformed the political arena. The rise of these Super-PACs has caused outside spending on elections to skyrocket, reaching its zenith in 2012 with over a billion dollars spent.

The Cost of Winning An Election

Average campaign expenditure for winning House of Representatives candidate (in 2012 dollars)
1986753274
1988777081
1990743512
1992910668
1994838336
19961004150
1998954751
20001127876
20021163499
20041262120
20061434762
20081452718
20101511799
20121596953
$
Sources: brookings.edu

Over the years, elections have become increasingly expensive. Factoring in the effect of inflation, successful House candidates today spend approximately double the amount of money that candidates did in 1986. Campaigns' increasing price tags are likely to make politicians more responsive to potential donors, while also making it more difficult for middle class individuals to run for office.

Purchasing Political Favors

% of Americans that believe when someone gives one million dollars to a Super-PAC...
They want something big in return for the candidate they are trying to elect.76
They are simply supporting candidates with whom they agree.24

The vast majority of Americans agree: the purchasing of political favors is a legitimate issue regarding elections and Super-PACs. Three-fourths of the American public agreed that when large sums of money are donated to help elect particular candidates, those funds come with strings attached; the donors want specific kickbacks from the candidate that got them elected.

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Jay
Jay on Jan 13, 2016 11:11 AM said:

This is perhaps the defining characteristic of our time. While money has always played a part in politics, we have not previously institutionalized its role as the ultimate factor in elections. Left unchanged, we have decided that those with money will choose what is best for our society: justice, taxation, environment, education, security, health, and the thousands of ways government affects us every day.

Noah
Noah on Jan 13, 2016 12:39 PM said:

Agree with Jay. The missing piece of data for this article is the study that came out recently (can't remember from which university) showing that there is essentially a zero correlation between public opinion and policies and a high correlation between policy and the opinions of the wealthy.

Jay
Jay on Jan 13, 2016 2:57 PM said:

Here is the Princeton study:

scholar.princeton.edu/sites/d…

Noah
Noah on Jan 13, 2016 3:33 PM said:

Well done sir!

favorite of Jacob Jedamus-Denu Jay