To what extent does big money effect our country’s elections?
So far in this presidential cycle, 158 families alone have paid nearly half of all money driving the campaigns.
That is not, however, any reason for you, the voter, to tear up your registration form; the whole point of campaigning is to not only encourage people to vote for the candidate being endorsed, but to discourage those who support the competition.
The donations themselves do not provide a magic fix for those to whom they are allocated. It only appears this way because of an unacceptably low national voter turnout: only about 54 percent of the United States’ voting-age population actually cast their votes in the 2012 Presidential Election.
If you support a candidate that received little or no support from any of the 158 families, do not despair.
Bernie Sanders has notably avoided big money donors and instead turned to the general population through online donation sites.
As a result, he raised approximately $26 million in this quarter alone from a pool of 650,000 supporters, who on average contributed $30 each.
The only Democrat to beat him in
this regard is Hillary Clinton, and 81 percent of her funds are comprised of large individual contributors.
On the Republican side, Ben Carson has had similar success through online contributions, and in the same quarter has raised $20 million.
Regardless of their political leanings, the men that raise money online through small donors reach more people, since more people have been given the chance to first support them.
It is important to note the impact that the media has on public opinion, as it diffuses the most attention-grabbing candidates’ policies and information to the general population.
Donald Trump, for instance,
has raised and spent relatively little for his campaign, yet his controversial and inflammatory remarks have attracted media since he first declared his presidential candidacy.
Yet Sanders too has reached millions because his controversial and middle class-friendly campaign both involves and supports the everyday American people, and has thus gained him media attention of his own.
By campaigning democratically, he has appealed directly to a more diverse crowd; the fact that compared to other candidates’ methods this seems unusual shows how the masses have become deprived to policies that actually benefit them.
The next step is then to promote a more democratic campaign finance system, and thus more democratic campaigning such as Sanders and Carson’s.
Not sure where to start?
Next week, Democracy Matters and the Political Science Department will be hosting a discussion on the issue and the ways in which we can collectively solve it.
This will include Professors Brown and Oxley, as well as Colgate University’s Professor Mandle.
It will be an interesting and insightful discussion that will reinvigorate, because you, the voter, know not the impact you and your fellow voters can have on an election when you commit to the mobilization of your efforts.
In doing so, you will give America’s Congress members a true demographic on where your policies lie.