Monday, November 18, 2013

Our government's current grid-lock: the problem and how to fix it. Part 3

        This is the last post in the three part segment on the U.S. government's grid-lock. In this post, I shall discuss the corrupting influence on money in politics, and how it has contributed to the current congressional stalemate. 

      In 1976 the supreme court ruled in Buckley v. Valeo that having limits on campaign donations was a violation of free speech. In 2010, the supreme court ruled in Citizens United vs FEC that corporations and unions have the same first amendment rights as individuals. Because of these rulings, creating a 501 (c) (4), more commonly known as a Super-Pac became legal. This is a non-profit organization that can raise unlimited money from corporations, unions, or individuals to support or oppose a candidate as long as they do not directly communicate with the candidate. These donations are often anonymous.

    In 2012, $567,498,628 were spent on elections by Super-Pacs, and there is good reason to think that more will be spent in 2016. All of this money has a large corrupting influence on politicians. Elected officials are likely to pay favors to those who give money to a Super-Pac supporting them, whether it is companies, unions, or individuals. This will dilute the influence that most Americans have on elected officials.

     Even worse, many of these Super-Pacs are funded by people in the political base of their party. These people tend to be less moderate and more extreme in their beliefs than other members of the party.  There are several possible results from the increasing influence of Super-Pacs.  One possibility is that it could make it easier for people at the fringes of the major parties to get elected, because they will tend to get more money from Super-Pacs. Another is that Super-Pacs could cause more moderate congressmen to shift even further toward the base of their party in order to get re-elected.  Lastly, Super-Pacs could help candidates with wealthy friends who would be free to donate as much as they want to their candidate's campaign via a Super-Pac.  In this case, elected officials would worry much more about pleasing wealthy donors than acting in the best interest of the rest of the nation.


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