There are many problems with the United States campaigning process in today’s society. A major one being huge corporations ability to pour endless amount of money into a political campaign at the local, state, and federal levels of government. I believe this is a big problem because lobbyist have a great impact, and ultimately affect a candidates political decision making.
Non-profit organizations such as the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberty Union to name a few, are corporations that give endless amounts of money to a candidate of their choice. The scary part is that all non-profit organizations are protected under the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. They have the ability to give as much money as they want to a campaign. In other words there is no restriction on just how much money they can give to political candidates. As we all know, these organizations have lobbyists in Washington whose sole job is to pump money into political campaigns.
Today the expense of a congressional campaign frequently surpasses a million dollars for every candidate, furthermore senate campaigns average 4.3 million dollars, often costing 10 million and even sometimes 15 million dollars. Once in office, a senator needs to raise money consistently each week to fund his or her re-election campaign. Much of this money comes from political action committees also known as, you guessed it, lobbyist. For example, Donald Trump, the leading Republican candidate of the 2016 presidential election, admitted he used his personal wealth to bribe politicians. “I will tell you that our system is broken, I gave to many people. Before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them two, three years later, I call them. They are there for me. And that is a broken system.” said Trump at the recent GOP debate.
There have been a few proposed solutions to this on-going problem, with one being the “Clean Money, Clean Election” proposal (CMCE). The idea behind the CMCE proposal is to limit the amount of donations received by political candidates to five dollars per donor. If you are backed by enough supporters, this will then qualify you as a candidate. Then they would then volunteer to sign a clean campaign contract making sure they use only federally provided funds (clean money) rather than over-excessive large corporation funding. The great thing about this system is that it is completely constitutional, because it’s voluntary. Candidates decide whether they want to participate in the CMCE program or not. But no sane person would opt-out. If you did, you’d have to work hard to raise money, your competitors could easily match whatever money you raised, and the voters would be told repeatedly by your federally-funded competitors that you were a cheat owned by special interests trying to get around the system. The pitfall I see with this solution is having a larger federal government involved in the election. However, this program would allow politicians more time to do their job rather than campaigning for their re-election campaign, and most importantly get rid of the lobbyists in Washington.
Another Solution may be to lower the cost of political campaigning. Small donor contributions have increased over the years thanks to internet and initiatives taken by presidential candidates and their respective parties. If the Federal government could match these small donations, this could play a constructive role in eliminating lobbyists. The costs of campaigning can be reduced with incentives such as free air time for candidates and their parties.
The end result is that the moneyed interests end up controlling the government, without doing anything wrong. More enforcement and regulation, while helpful, is unlikely to solve the problem. As long as money wins campaigns, the people with the most money will win the most campaigns. The only solution is to take the money out altogether.
Sources: Huffington Post, LA Times