Money Talks

In this year’s Government, Politics, and Citizenship class we focused on many topics, ranging from trying to understand this year’s Presidential candidates to examining gentrification and inclusionary zoning. However, the most interesting part of the class for me was our Xlandia project, in which we tried to create a new system of government for a country that had just experienced a revolution. I found thisimages project to be a very informative and interesting simulation that gave me the opportunity to compare and contrast different types of government side by side. However, during this simulation one of the major talking points in my group was how voting should be conducted as well as how it can be manipulated. Additionally, as a class we spent time extensively looking at how voting is conducted in the United States. One of the biggest things I noticed was the lack of voting representation granted to people who do not have millions of dollars to spend on backing up a politician. I found this ability to use money to buy votes troubling and it has since become one of the main factors that has lead me to believe that our government is unjust. As in any capitalist democracy, there are always going to be rich citizens and poor citizens, and despite the best efforts from citizens and politicians there is almost no way to maintain this type of government while having diverse socioeconomic classes. Additionally, while politicians would like the citizens to believe that their running platforms are not influenced by money, that could not be further from the truth. For example, in the 2012 presidential election alone Barack Obama and Mitt Romney raised $1.07 billion and $992.5 million respectively.Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.34.41 PM Out of all the money raised by Mitt Romney, sixteen percent of his available funds came from the political action committee “Restore Our Future”. On the other side, seven percent of Barack Obama’s funding came from the political action committee “Priorities USA”. It’s no secret that money talks, but when the two main parties are spending almost $2 billion in one presidential campaign season, it starts to bring up the question as to who really has a say in the nominations: the voters or the select few wealthy people and super PACs who can spend millions in an effort to support candidates that would push their political agenda?
This idea of restricting campaign financing is a slippery slope, however. On one hand, the government could put strict sanctions in place that would control where and how candidates get money for their campaigns. Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.35.09 PMThis in turn could negatively affect voter turnout and potentially result in voter apathy or uneducated voters due to the candidates’ lack of social presence. On the other hand, if campaign funding does not get reformed and remains the way it is now, then it would be almost impossible for a third party candidate to win the election, a feat that has yet to be accomplished since the creation of the United States.
The process of campaign spending reform will be long and grueling and will be contested at every stage, but I believe that it can be done. Once voters start to realize that in order to be represented equally on all levels of government their candidates must receive equal attention based upon political substance rather than campaign funding, then there will be a call to campaign reform. The United States has become a bipartisan government due to the lack of specific laws governing campaign funding. This in turn has created a clear split between the two main parties and all the others. This change will not happen overnight, and it may not even happen for several generations, but campaign spending reform is an important and necessary change if the United States ever wants to offer a truly fair and just voting system for all.

Image Citations:
http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/campaign-finance
http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/money_votes_20140404

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