Buying The Presidency
“The 2016 presidential election was bought.”
Well, not really, but money definitely had an influence on the outcome of it.
The 2016 presidential election was defined by big money more than any other in recent history. Due to the increasing amount of money involved in politics, many people believe money is the main or only factor that decides the outcome of an election and advocate reform.
Yes, money plays a role, but money itself does not guarantee victory, as there are several other factors people are neglecting to acknowledge.
The large influx of money into the 2016 election is mostly credited to the enormous sums donated through Super Political Action Committees, or PACs for short. With Super PACs, various individuals and groups can contribute as much money as they want to support a candidate.
With growing opposition to big money in politics, some candidates are receiving negative publicity because of their generous backers. This is due to the growing trend in which people believe money is corrupting politicians.
According to a poll done by New York Times/CBS News, the vast majority in the U.S — 84% — believe money has too much influence in political campaigns.
Even with wide discontent with the campaign financing system, there is little support for reform. This is because those in legislation or who aspire to be in legislation need the backing of big money themselves.
For instance, the Empowering Citizens Act, which has received little to no support from congress. The bill would essentially overturn some of the campaign finance laws established by Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United, resulting in an end to Super PACs. However, until money is less involved within politics, there is little hope for those seeking reform.
For the most part, advocates of campaign finance reform have little idea of what reform would actually mean. Until they actually dig into what reform actually means, they won’t realize that the reform they all want will negatively affect them as well.
This is because limiting the spending of citizens in campaigning goes against the First Amendment of the Constitution and does more harm than good. This statement is backed by Buckley v. Valeo, in which the Supreme Court overturned the U.S. Federal Election Campaign Act because it defied First Amendment freedoms.
Usually, more money would mean more ads, which would lead to more publicity and success, but not so much in this election. In actuality, due to large sums of money spent by each candidate, the end result is the cancellation of one another. Not only that, but nowadays, ads are overall less efficient due to all the various media sources.
Green Isn’t The Only Thing I $ee
Those in favor of campaign finance reform forget to recognize that there are other factors that drive people to vote the way they do, which has no relation to money.
The number one way political socialization occurs is within the family; people reciprocate similar political ideals from where they are brought up. As a result, the demographics of many states gravitate towards certain parties and consistently vote the same every election.
Another factor involved in deciding how a person may vote, which has no relation to money, is gender. Known as the gender gap, females tend to have a higher voting rate and vote differently from men.
Additionally, voters elect those whose party platform and policies appeal and benefit them. Due to the poor economic standings of a majority of young people, Bernie Sanders has gained countless supporters from this generation.
On the other side of the Democratic Party, there is Hillary Clinton who has also been successful in attracting various groups because of her policies. Money cannot buy an entire group of people to make them support a certain candidate. The LGBT community is in favor of Hillary Clinton because of her stand on the policies regarding LGBT people, and her push for their equal rights.
All in all, bringing reform to the campaign finance system is harmful for America, as it would mean limiting the Constitutional right of Freedom of Expression.
Those in favor of reform need to recognize that the Supreme Court decisions in Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United were decided in the most just manner. Opposers of the current campaign finance system must also take into consideration that money is not the only factor in an election, and that money itself cannot win the votes of the people, as there are other means involved.