The majority of Americans believe there is too much money in politics and it is having a corrosive effect. We believe the ability of wealthy donors/special interests to outspend everyday Americans has resulted in a government unresponsive to our needs. This is old news. The question rarely asked is why has this long-term, widespread dissatisfaction not led to a successful effort to reform the system?
The answer is, as Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Billions of dollars are spent all across the country by presidential and congressional campaigns. According to Open Sources the 2012 presidential race cost more than $2.6 billion and the race in 2016 may double that amount. According to Maplight, on average a house seat in 2012 cost $1,689,580 and a Senate seat cost $10,476,451.
The people and businesses to whom the money goes have become the built-in constituency for keeping the gravy train going. Campaigns employ thousands of people, spending money across the country.
We know that a large percentage of the money in the form of advertising goes to broadcasters at both the national and local level.
Another large chunk of money goes to a myriad of consultants including but not limited to:
- overall campaign strategy
- online strategy
- legal advice
- media buys
- direct mail
- speech writing
- etc., etc., etc.
All of the consultants employ staff including writers, graphic artists, interviewers (working for pollsters), managers, clerical staff and so on and so on.
There are also the production costs including those involved in producing advertisement for televisions, print ads, email and direct mail advertisements and so forth and so on.
And then there is all of the money that gets spent on the ground including rent for office space, rent for venues, security, catering, travel, equipment and, and, and.
From the waitress in a local diner to the well-paid manager of a super pac, campaigning has become a huge nationwide industry from which many of us gain.
Ironically, much of the money spent in campaigns is wasted because studies have found that television advertising is not effective. What is effective is having a candidate or the candidate’s surrogates (including volunteers) talking, one-on-one, face-to-face, with voters.
In view of the fact that politicians, on average spend a third of their time fundraising, one wonders how much more successful and responsive politicians would be if they spent less time with donors grubbing for money and more time with their constituents.
Do you agree that money in politics is a major problem? If not, why not? If so, how might we resolve this problem?
You can look up massive amounts of information on this subject online (and we hope you do). Some articles we found helpful in producing this post include: