Republicanism remains America’s ideology to date. USA is a democratic country whose sovereignty is exercised through two levels of governments- the federal government and the state government (Jillson 14). The nation as endeavored to regulate the influence of money in politics and election outcome through federal provisions and state legislations. However the influence of money in voting habit cannot be actively changed unless spending by candidates and political parties is regulated. Money cannot equal a vote. With inadequate public funding, parties(s) and individual candidates who cannot access other sources of funding may not reach out the voter- reducing their votes. The US politics have been and is strongly influenced by finances. Inadequacy of provisions that govern campaign and election finance is a threat to democracy. It exposes the government and political parties to scandals and black mails by private corporations that may be willing to finance campaigns so they may earn some favors from resulting government. In this paper I am going to explore shortcomings of election finance provisions and the impending threat to democracy. Money has done much for American politics by making fundraising an acceptable evil. The political class may be the beneficiaries of such insufficiency of the law in the sense that, as it is now, campaign funding and fund raising provisions do not favor persons without connections and money to spend. This discourages participation. I will also explore the political class unwillingness to enact serious laws to reduce the influence money in politics.
Sources of campaign money
Fund raising (lobbying for financial donation) remain primary source of campaign money in the United States. The Political Action Committee collects funds from donors and spends them on behalf of the candidate. Since American politics are closely related to finance and no campaign money means no vote, individuals and political parties are advancing in method of appealing for funding by wealthy individuals and organization. In 2004 Howard Dean used the internet to mobilize civilians for funding (American government 2008). this might have changed fundraising approach in America for good -which is much important than manifestos. Candidates have started using latest technology called the Micro targeting- which has the capability to target only potential donors. (Washington Post)This show how important money is treated in our politics. Raising more money increases the chances of obtaining votes as observed in the 2012 presidential and senate election, those who raised more money went into office by a chance of 91% (Federal Election commission). Do money equal vote?
Another method is the public funding which has not been welcomed by everyone. Candidate is to collect signatures and every signature $5 is extended. This could be one of the best provisions since the funding formula puts into consideration candidate’s or political party’s efforts. But it is optional. Those who follow this path should not accept funds from other external sources. Expense is regulated as well (Federal Electoral Commission 2008).
The Federal Electoral Commission allows the political class to solicit funds from Convention accounts. And the commission is doing much for existing politicians than to the public. This account can enable a donor and a partner to funnel $500,000 to a political party every two years there is a congress election. According to NRP news there provisions that are already being effected seeks to increase the 2012 legal limit of $97,200 donation per year to $388,800. This is going to make politics expensive and difficult for the unhealthy. Most people have not realist these political shortcomings because scandals are embedded and don not get to trials. Scandals that have let to serious prop are sex scandals with exception of the Water-gate scandal that let constitutional crisis (CNN news June 16 2014). The Watergate scandal steered up the demand for a better electoral system. It seems that the spirit that was ignited in 1974 seemed to harm interests of the law makers and the pace has been slow. According to Julian Zelizer, political reforms on campaign financing will not come easily (CNN commentaries, Jan 23 2012)
The role of money in American politics
With availability of campaign money, podcast time could be bought (broadcast time is limited in the US politics) reaching to a bigger number of voters. Reaching the voter and preventing the opponent from accessing voters through television alone is sufficient to change election outcome. If complain activities are not limited by funds the best number of votes will be garnered ((Ansolabehere, et al. 210).
James Pollock and Louise started their inquiry into the influence of money in politics in the US. They found great deal of connection between the voting behavior and money spend on campaign although what is out is that the candidates or parties receiving donation are in agreement with corporate donors but allegation exist that such corporation expect some favors from the resulting government. This could amount to scandal where the law is sufficient (Gill, et al. 39). Favors that may be demanded by donors may include but not restricted to enactment of certain laws and defeating some.
Regulation f campaign finance in the US
Federal efforts to reduce the influence of money in politics can be traced back to 1867. Little success has been registered until the enactment of Federal Election Act in 1972. The Act required candidate t discloses the sources of campaign money and their expenditure. This provision was only about disclosure and did not fixed limits of neither expenditure nor contributions- it was therefore amended to include such limits and Federal Election Commission created through the same act of parliament. The Act limited individual donation to a candidate to $1,000 and that from Political Action Committee to $5,000.(Federal Electoral Commission 2008) close to 30 years letter, the need for further reforms was visible and the 2002 Campaign Reform Act was enacted. This provision banned financing by corporations both businesses and nonprofit making.
Parliamentary Act and the Supreme Court ruling not good sign
After much progress and development electioneering act, the supreme courts expected to give injection on an allegedly ongoing funding of a candidate (Hilary) by a nonprofit organization gives a different definition of funding making the funding a film that shows how better president Hilary would be to be an exercise of freedom of speech. May be the political class are not ready for a partisan way of politics that gives everyone a chance in the ballot box. Citizens united went to court seeking injunction of the advertising of the movie but the court ruled in favor of Federal Election commission. The biggest beneficiary is Hilary Clinton, in its statement the court said that the financing of show time and advertisement of the movies did not violate the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in anyway (Liptak 21). But the law seemed clearer than what the court would have the public believe. The court overturned the law that prohibited the funding of advertising of such manner.
Election and campaign patties financing in American politics is an embedded fiddle that keeps the voters confident while upholding the influence of money in vote outcome. Votes cannot be bought but cannot be garnered without money. The court ruling on Citizen united vs. the Federal Electoral commission opened up the loop holes for corporation to use money to influence peoples voting habit. Well that is not democracy, where every voter can look at candidate plainly not through the decorations of money and where every candidate has a chance at the ballot box despite financial capabilities. Our electoral system has failed to guarantee this.
Shortcomings of regulation and the violation of such provisions by the judiciary is the main rot of the problem. If corporation were completely banned from spending on politics and the per signature public funding upheld, then participation will be encouraged and luck of money be prospective candidates will not prevent them for reaching out to the voter.
What is needed may not only be provisions and parliamentary acts, it is the collective responsibility of both levels of government and all their arms.
With the same kind of perception and little public concern it will be hard to eliminate influence of money in politics. If money can influence voting behavior then the vote can be bought. Courts should not favor politician even when it means lending the law repugnant. Putting into consideration Julian Zelizer’s comments on reforms for campaign financing, little should be expected.
Ansolabehere, Stephen; John de Figueiredo, James M. Snyder, Jr. (2003). "Why Is There So
Little Money in U.S. politics?". Journal of Economic Perspectives(Massachusetts. Institute of Technology) 17 (1): 105–130.doi:10.1257/089533003321164976
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Jillson, Calvin C. American Government: Political Change and Institutional Development. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College, 2013. Print.
Pollock, James K. Party Campaign Funds,. New York and London: A.A. Knopf, 1926. Print. "Internet Revolutionizes Campaign Fundraising". America.gov. 2008-07-10. Archived from the original on 2009-05-12 "Campaign Finance Reports and Data." Campaign Finance Reports and Data. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. http://www.fec.gov/disclosure.shtml
Zelizer, Julian. "It Took a Scandal to Get Real Campaign Finance Reform." CNN Commentaries
(2012). CNN. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/23/opinion/zelizer- campaign-finance-reform/>.