Big Money in American Politics
Money plays an important role in Politics. These roles include financing of political campaigns and running of the political parties’ affairs. Contributions by corporate and individuals have been seen as the surest way of raising campaign funds. Candidates seeking to run for office are permitted by law to hold fundraisers that will enable them raise the money needed to finance their bids for office. Apparently, fundraising for political campaigns is as old as the American politics itself. Mark Hanna, one of the greatest kingmakers of the mid 19th Century once admitted that big money is the most important determinant of a political win in America. This essay will seek to dissect this assertion and show cause as to why the statement holds true in the modern day politics.
There is a conflicting view as to whether big money should be allowed or disallowed in American politics. The proponents argue that big money should be allowed while the opponents are of the opinion that big money should not be allowed in American politics. Both of these standpoints have their own strengths and weaknesses. The whole issue of kicking big money out of the American politics has arose in response to the many concerns held by the conservatives who argue that big money is harmful both to the American politics and to the economy of the country.
The war against the inclusion of big money in campaign funding is championed by Buchanan who asserts that big money does not inflict any problem to politics and that public interest is not affected by the inclusion of big money in politics (Buchanan, 2003). Buchanan’s assertions happen to have gained support from his contemporaries who argue that there is no correlation between low public trust and the inclusion of big money in politics. These proponents of the inclusion of big money in politics further refute claims that corporate funding of campaigns contributes to high corruption levels in government. In order to support this argument, the proponents draw their examples from countries such as Australia, which has no restrictions on the amount of corporate funding allowable in their political parties, and yet they have a lower corruption index compared to the US, which has strict restrictions, and a high corruption index.
The counter strike offense pushing for the exclusion of big money from politics is being championed by Kuhner. According to Kirshner (2003), there is need to treat State and Business as two separate entities. He is in the category of those who fear that inclusion of big money in politics will erode the many benefits that the founding fathers envisioned for America. Kuhner and his contemporaries argue that the allowance of unlimited corporate funding in American politics will lead to the erosion of the benefits of democracy and promote corruption in government. Additionally, Kuhner argues that leaders elected via corporate funding will subrogate their duty to the public and instead prioritize serving the big money contributors (Kirshner, 2003). These opponents of inclusion hope that by keeping a short leash on corporate funding of political campaigns they will have saved both the Capitol Hill and Washington from the influence of these self-seeking big money lenders.
Both the proponents and opponents of inclusion have their own strengths and weaknesses. According to Buchanan (2004), allowing the inclusion of corporate funding in politics will relieve the political contenders of the pressures associated with sourcing funds to finance robust and extensive campaign machinery. Additionally, such an all allowance will also be upholding the provisions of the constitution, which protects the rights to free speech. However, there are certain weaknesses or limitations associated with this inclusion.
Firstly, it is feared that the big money lenders often have ulterior motives as to why they give their money to politicians. It is widely assumed that big money lenders are not purely philanthropic; their checks often come with strings attached. Some hope that by sponsoring a candidate they might benefit from tax cuts or some policies that will favour them. Secondly, the inclusion tilts the wheels of political equity in favour of the candidate who has received the most of the big money. This goes against the tenet of political equality and erodes democracy, which is the bedrock of American politics (Domhoff, 1988).
On the other hand, the exclusion of big money from American politics has certain strengths. This happens to boost public trust and close doors on corruption. Secondly, the exclusion removes the possibility of political manipulation by big money lenders. Thirdly, the exclusion will ensure that democracy is upheld and that elected officials serve the public good and not the interest of a few self-seeking corporations. Aside from these strengths, the exclusion bid suffers from some weaknesses (Jackson, 1990). For instance, total exclusion is impossible because the big money lenders will always find ways of circumventing the law. Secondly, exclusion might be viewed as infringing on the rights to free speech that is secured by the constitution. Thirdly, total exclusion of big money would mean that the candidates have to spend more of their time in fund raising for their campaign kitty.
The arguments presented by the proponents and the opponents carry near equal weights. However, exclusion of big money from American politics seems to have carried the day. The strengths and weaknesses on the inclusion side seems to even out. Nevertheless, the weaknesses of exclusions seem to be weaker compared to their strengths. Therefore, there is need for the exclusion of big money from American politics. Regardless of the fact that big money helps in financing campaigns, there is need to limit the amount that an individual or a corporation donates to the campaign kitty (Kirshner, 2003). This will eliminate the possibility of electing leaders whose preoccupation will be to serve their big lenders at the expense of the public. Additionally, exclusion of big money will ensure that corruption is curtailed and that the elected leaders remain accountable to their electorate.
From the discussion just ended, it is apparent that big money has the capacity of influencing the political machinery of a country. A country such as the United States cannot risk allowing a free flow of unlimited corporate funding into the country’s political campaigns. If left unmonitored, big money lenders might end up running the whole nation and promoting their own agents into influential State offices. It is important to keep a short leash on the big money lenders because of their notoriety in persuading their sponsored candidates to formulate policies that will favour them. If left unmonitored such elected officials would turn into corrupt public officers. For the interest of democracy big money lenders need to be kicked out of America’s political arena.
Buchanan, A. E. (2004). Justice, legitimacy, and self-determination: Moral foundations for international law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Domhoff, G. W. (1988). Big money in American politics. Theory and Society.
Jackson, B. (1990). Honest graft: Big money and the American political process. Washington, D.C: Farragut Pub. Co.
Kirshner, J. (2003). Money is politics. Review of International Political Economy.
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