In the ideal presidential election, ordinary citizens can influence the congressional members of their respective states to support for president, whomever the people want, and if the members do not comply, their own chances of reelection plummet.
However, the outcome of the 2010 “Citizens United v. FEC” case has largely subverted such equality by allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on ads and other political tools in order to support or to oppose whichever political candidates they please.
Additionally, candidates are able to campaign for themselves with money that is directly donated to them by rich, powerful individuals, who bundle their expenses with like-minded rich, powerful individuals.
The final result: The 2012 election saw its final two candidates spend a combined $1.12 billion of the nearly $2.6 billion from the entire election, not including the tens of millions spent by their recently empowered corporations.
The solution to this de facto inequity, and the patriotic thing to do, is to support clean elections in which donors are limited on how much money they can give to candidates.
Teddy Roosevelt once stated, “The need for collecting large campaign funds would vanish if Congress provided an appropriation for the proper and legitimate expenses of each of the great national parties.”
To those who deem this impractical: by relying on small online donations comprised of hundreds of thousand of donors, Ben Carson has raised $20 million in 2015 and Bernie Sanders has raised $26 million.
Carson and Sanders are now in close competition, with purported partisan powerhouses like Trump and Clinton, who have relied heavily on personal events that helped them raise money through large donors.
Since the people’s voices can actually be heard, it is in your interest, the reader, to not only vote, but to flock collectively to these sources of small donations. It only makes sense that the people who raise money in this way would also have in mind the best interests of the people.
Over the past couple of days, members of Democracy Matters (DM), a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has chapters in colleges and universities across the nation, tabled in Reamer Campus Center, and had students guess the expense of the 2012 election. Doing so informed everyone of the extent to which a powerful few have had their way.
DM’s support of clean elections through petitions and campaigns are meant to inform, and thus encourage citizens to continue their civic duty.
Carson and Sanders have demonstrated the effectiveness of the masses through clean elections, and the latter has publicly supported DM for this very reason.
Our club is able to hold events in conglomeration with a multitude of other clubs on campus because although at face value, campaign finance reform appears to be a dry subject, it is actually most diverse.
The actions of those who hold office affect every separate issue through the policies they enact.
To see the montage of photos we took of participants this week, follow our Facebook page, “Democracy Matters at Union College,” so you can stay informed, and perhaps take part in the empowerment of the American people.