Amelia Ahl: ‘Representative Democracy Is Good for Business’
This year, corporate political spending got national attention after the insurrection at the Capitol in January led many companies to stop political contributions to lawmakers who objected to the certification of the election.
While these companies were rightly concerned about aligning their financial support with forces threatening our democracy, now is the time for a larger question about corporate political spending: Does the existence of corporate political expenditures run counter to our nation’s democratic principles of self-governance and an equal voice in our elections? Many Americans — including major business leaders — answer yes.
Amelia Ahl is an MBA/MPA candidate at Presidio Graduate School, pursuing a degree in sustainable solutions. Recently, she wrote this article in Triple Pundit about the harmful effects of corporate political spending, including increasing political polarization. Ahl believes this moment of increased scrutiny on political spending should be a springboard for broader campaign finance reform — including an amendment to the Constitution.
“The corporate world is realizing that representative democracy is good for business and, conversely, that the upending of the democratic process is bad for business,” Ahl writes.
Ahl highlights the explosion in corporate political spending in recent years. Businesses are pressured to spend ever-greater amounts of money on politics, to influence lawmakers to craft legislation favorable to them and to compete in the marketplace.
“In the 2020 election, outside spending amounted to almost $3.3 billion, nearly double the amount spent in 2016 and 56 times what was spent in the 2000 election,” she writes. “The increasing rates of corporate political contributions are considered an ‘arms race’ by business leaders and advocates such as American Promise, a nonprofit seeking to re-authorize limits on political spending by individuals, corporations and unions. The group is one of many that are increasingly concerned about the impact of political spending on the vitality of American democracy and the success of American enterprises as well as workers.”
A constitutional amendment and limits on political spending are widely favored across the political spectrum and among business leaders. This broad appeal is driving action in communities and states across the country and putting pressure on Congress to pass the amendment.
“Business leaders and the general public alike are in favor of limits on political spending, with hundreds of individuals and companies pledging their support and a bipartisan majority of 81 percent of Americans in favor of a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress and states to set reasonable limits on campaign fundraising and spending.”