By: Maggie McNish
There are only a few people in this world who can truly understand the concept of two billion dollars. Included in this small group are the managers of the 2012 presidential campaigns. According to the New York Times, a total of $881.8 million was raised by Mitt Romney’s campaign and $934 million by President Barack Obama’s. Ridiculous doesn’t even begin to describe this.
Campaign finance has always been an issue of contention in the U.S. However, the true severity of it has been brought to light after the 2010 Supreme Court decision of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In favor of Citizens United–a nonprofit group sued for running a film against Hilary Clinton “On Demand” prior to the 2008 election–the Court decided that the right to donate basically unlimited amounts of money to advocacy groups is protected under the first amendment. Thus, there are now few restrictions to how much can be given to groups like Political Action Committees (PACs) in support of a particular candidate.
This has become a major flaw in the political campaign process. It has taken focus off of who has better policies or who wants to make the U.S. better and has put the focus on who can afford more commercials and rallies.
Current campaign finance law is certainly a nonpartisan issue. Citizens deserve the ability to support candidates who run for their
interests regardless of how much money they have. However, it is also clear that there are some Republicans who have no desire to reform the system. Democrats do not have the same support of the wealthiest businesses and organizations of the country–but the GOP does. Unions are a source of vast financial support for the Democratic Party and one of the reasons that Obama was able to out raise his opponent. Interestingly enough, many Republicans are trying to limit the power of this revenue source. If they succeed, Democrats will have to rely on only their constituents who unfortunately do not have the same income as Donald Trump.
Nonetheless, one of the biggest politicians hurt by the system is a Republican–Buddy Roemer. Roemer is a former governor of Louisiana who served four terms in the House. He is not well-known in the country. So, it may sound surprising that he was on the New Hampshire ballot during the past Republican primaries. The thing about Roemer is that he only accepted contributions under $100 and refused money from PACs. Campaigners like him should be rewarded, yet the Republican Party snubbed him of a spot during their debates for presidential nominee.
Simply put, the current system is unfair. It is unfair to people who want to be a part of government yet cannot raise a billion dollars. It is unfair to the citizens whose voices are muffled by piles of money. It is unfair to turn a country–for the people and by the people–into one for the rich and by the rich.